Temporomandibular Joint Disorders (TMJ, TMD)
TMJ disorders or temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ, TMD) are comprised of conditions that affect the jaw joint and surrounding muscles, causing pain with movement and affecting functionality which can often worsen over time. The temporomandibular joints, located on either side of the jaw, hinge the upper and lower jaw together and attach the jawbone to the skull. TMJ specialist, Dr. James Jacobs of Pacific Oral Surgery, discusses causes and treatment of TMJ disorder such as persistent jaw pain or tenderness and/or can’t open and close your jaw completely.
The temporomandibular joint allows the jaw to open and close in order to:
When a pathology is present, pain and discomfort can occur.
TMJ Disorders Symptoms, Treatment and Surgery
Symptoms of TMJ Disorders
Common symptoms of TMJ disorders may come and go and can include:
- TMJ Jaw pain and tenderness
- Popping or clicking sound or grinding sensation when the jaw moves
- Pain in the temporomandibular joint
- Ear pain or ringing
- Pain while chewing
- Locking of jaw or limited jaw movement
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Facial pain
- Change in facial appearance or occlusion (the contact between teeth)
Causes of TMJ Disorder
The exact cause of a TMJ disorder is not always known. The jaw joints interact with bones that are covered in cartilage and separated by a small disc. These structures keep the jaw joint functioning smoothly as it slides back and forth.
Some TMJ disorders can occur when the temporomandibular joint are damaged or injured, such as:
- Disc erosion or displacement
- Cartilage damage from arthritis
- Joint damage from a sharp blow
- Chronic teeth grinding
Osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and connective tissue diseases can also negatively affect the temporomandibular joints.
Treatment for TMJ Disorders
Treatment for TMJ disorders always starts conservatively. Medications, therapies, or corticosteroid injections can be extremely helpful in alleviating the discomfort associated with TMJ disorders. However, if these methods are unsuccessful, surgery may be the best way to treat the condition.
Orthognathic Jaw Surgery for TMJ Disorders
In addition, a TMJ pathology can create or present with a jaw or facial abnormality that necessitates orthognathic jaw surgery.
TMJ disorders which may require surgical intervention include:
- Displaced articular disc (most common): Displaced disc within the jaw joint which can require repositioning and stabilization with artificial ligaments in a procedure called Mitek Anchor Surgery
- Osteochondroma: Benign tumor in the lower jaw which causes asymmetry of the face from overdevelopment of one side
- Adolescent internal condylar resorption (also called cheerleader syndrome): Condition affecting primarily girls during puberty (ages 11-15) in which a disc becomes displaced and the ends of the jawbone begin to dissolve, causing jaw retrusion.
- Mandibular prognathism (condylar hyperplasia): Condition characterized by overgrowth of the lower jaw
- Temporomandibular joint diseases (end-stage TMJ): Abnormal joint stiffness due to bone fusion (ankylosis) and many connective tissue autoimmune diseases can require orthognathic surgery or total jaw prosthesis
If you are experiencing symptoms of TMJ disorder, contact our office for an evaluation. To arrange a consultation with a doctor at Pacific Oral Surgery, please submit an online appointment request or call one of our Pacific Oral Surgery offices located in Ventura, Thousand Oaks and Simi Valley.
Our team of oral, maxillofacial and dental implant surgeons, Dr. James Jacobs, Dr. John Webb, and Dr. Sebastian Carlson, welcomes you to our Pacific Oral Surgery practice.