TMJ Dysfunction Glen Burnie, MD

TMJ Dysfunction

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) connects the jaw to the skull. If there is an injury to this joint or it becomes damaged, it can cause TMJ syndrome. TMJ can also be caused by a misalignment of the teeth, gum chewing, arthritis, teeth grinding or jaw injury. Symptoms of this TMJ disorder include pain in the jaw, jaw popping or clicking, headaches, sore jaw muscles, locking of the jaw, pain in the temple and earache. It’s important to realize that the temporomandibular joint is a complex and important structure comprised of bones, tendons and muscles, and you may have pain on one or both sides of the jaw.

Diagnosing TMJ Disorder

There is no specific method of diagnosing TMJ. A physician will take your medical history and do an exam. Your physician may also send you to a dentist specializing in jaw disorders or to an otolaryngologist. Your symptoms may be due to a condition known as trigeminal neuralgia, teeth grinding, salivary gland disease or even swollen lymph nodes. The idea is to rule out other medical problems.

Home Remedies and Treatment for TMJ Syndrome

Sometimes, home remedies can relieve the symptoms of TMJ syndrome. Some people respond well to over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen and aspirin. Ice packs applied to the jaw joint may also help. Sedative essential oils may give temporary relief. When home remedies don’t work, medical treatment may be needed. A jaw specialist may use a dental splint or mouthguard to keep teeth properly aligned and to prevent tooth grinding. More extreme of medical treatments may include joint replacement or a TMJ arthroscopy. Muscle relaxers and anti-inflammatory medications may be prescribed.

Physical therapy is effective in the treatment of TMJ. A physical therapist will analyze your jaw movement and release muscle tension in the neck and head area. A comprehensive evaluation is done of the neck, shoulder girdle and thoracic spine to determine if those structures are affecting your posture or causing your symptoms. The goal of physical therapy is to restore the interaction of the muscles and joints and to restore normal function. Treatments may include soft tissue massage, joint mobilization, myofascial techniques including craniosacral therapy, and jaw exercises. Laser therapy, trigger point dry needling to areas that send pain to the jaw, electric stimulation, or ultrasound may be used to decrease muscle tension and provide pain relief. In addition, a physical therapist can educate you on dietary changes that will decrease stress on the jaw joint.

Dentists and Physical Therapists

More and more, dentists are working with specialized physical therapists to deliver effective treatment for patients with TMJ disorder. This team effort has led to an improvement in over 80 percent of cases. Working with a physical therapist who understands craniofacial disorders is crucial to success. These specialized physical therapists will understand the relationship between the neck and teeth areas. This team effort is successful because the dentist can explain the underlying problems and help the therapist design custom exercises.

When physical therapists treat patients with TMJ, the goal is to improve mobility and alignment along with strengthening the muscles. And if the patient has scar tissue, they can help treat that too.

Are you having difficulty chewing or yawning? Do you have jaw pain? Do you hear a clicking noise when you open and shut your mouth? These may all be signs of TMJ syndrome. Don’t suffer anymore. A physical therapist can help you manage and eliminate symptoms. Be sure to give us a call to schedule a one-on-one consultation and a complete, thorough evaluation. Our physical therapists have helped many who suffer from TMJ disorder and can help you too. We are patient-centric and committed to your health. We are available at the locations of Glen Burnie, MD. For more information contact us today!