Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ) is a broad description that covers a wide range of conditions that cause pain in the jaw. Treatment for TMJ disorder is therefore a complex process, which involves investigating the cause of the pain and then using this diagnosis to determine a treatment plan. Patients in Calgary with TMJ pain can schedule and appointment with Dr. Tom Shackleton, or ask their regular dental practitioner to refer them for treatment.
Where Is the Temporomandibular Joint?
The temporomandibular joint is the pivot point where the lower jaw meets the upper jaw at the skull. It is located just ahead of the ear, and is easy to feel and see. The joint is best described as a sliding hinge, with a disc of cartilaginous material between the two bones that provides cushioning as the joint moves.
What Causes TMJ Disorder?
TMJ disorder can be caused by a wide range of factors, including genetics, congenital bone deformations, arthritis, jaw trauma and others. Repetitive action such as excessive gum chewing and teeth grinding can also trigger pain related to the temporomandibular joint in some patients.
The temporomandibular joint moves whenever we speak, chew and even swallow, which means that any deformation, abnormality or degeneration in the joint or it’s parts may have an effect.
What Are the Symptoms of TMJ Disorder?
The symptoms of TMJ disorder in Calgary patients can vary, based on the cause and severity of the problem. Some of the most common signs are pain in the jaw that is not related to tooth decay or periodontal disease, difficulty chewing, locking of the jaw, and in some cases, an audible and palpable clicking sensation when moving the jaws.
How Is TMJ Disorder Diagnosed?
Because there are so many possible causes for TMJ disorder, the diagnosis process involves many different steps, all of which allow the experienced dentist treating the orofacial pain to determine the best possible course of treatment, with the best possibility of long term or permanent success.
A patient history will be taken, where the patient will be asked about behaviors like gum chewing and tooth grinding. Diagnostic imaging will also be used to get pictures of the joint or joints (e.g. panoramic x-ray, CBCT, isolated joint x-ray MRI). These will give the doctor the information required to diagnose the most likely cause or causes of the patient’s pain.
Treatments for TMJ Disorder
There is no one size fits all solution for jaw pain, and the treatment for TMJ disorders always depends on the cause or causes.
In some cases, such as repetitive strain from excessive gum chewing, simply stopping the triggering action (chewing gum) can have a marked effect on the pain and other symptoms experienced.
In other cases, like tooth grinding, a mechanical method like a custom fitted appliance to use when sleeping can have a significant impact. When the cause of the problem is a bone deformation or a degenerative condition like arthritis, surgical intervention may be required to solve the patient’s problem.
No matter what the cause or the treatment, however, it all starts with diagnosis, and the first step is to refer the patient to a practitioner who is familiar with treating orofacial conditions like TMJ pain in Calgary area.
For more information on managing TMJ pain or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Tom Shackleton, please contact us at 403-242-9952 today.