TMJ Specialist

Northwest Dental Services & Denture Implant Center

Dentists & Denturists located in Tacoma, WA

Pain in your temporomandibular joint (TMJ) can be debilitating, making everyday facial movements like eating and talking uncomfortable at best and painful at worst. Although there are many types of TMJ and many possible causes, most are easily treatable. If the pain in your jaw keeps coming back, Dr. Jon Martin at Northwest Dental Services and Dental Implant Center in Tacoma, Washington, can help you find the cause and a treatment that will ease your discomfort. Call or schedule an appointment online today and find relief.

TMJ Q & A

Northwest Dental Services & Denture Implant Center

How does my TMJ work?

The TMJ is the joint that allows your jaw to open and close. It connects your mandible, or lower jaw, to your temple. Your jaw acts as a hinge, and at the joint, there is a small disc sitting between your upper and lower jaw bone.

Several ligaments surround the disc and attach it to the bones, keeping it in place. The disc moves with the lower jaw bone; when you open your mouth, your lower jaw and the disc slide forward together.

This disc can become painful for several reasons. The ligaments can stretch, the joint could be under-lubricated, or you may have developed arthritis. For any of these reasons, your TMJ could dislocate. Untreated, this leads to pain in your neck, ears, or head.

If your jaw feels out-of-place or uncomfortable, you should schedule an appointment at Northwest Dental Services and Denture Implant Center to find the right treatment.

What are potential TMJ causes and disorders?

Myofascial pain

Myofascial pain occurs when the nerves around your jaw muscles become overstimulated and irritated. Eventually, they begin to form small nodules in the affected muscle. These nodules are called trigger points. Sometimes, trigger points for myofascial pain are located in unexpected places such as the shoulders.

Disc displacement with reduction

If your jaw clicks when you open and close your mouth, you may be experiencing disc displacement with reduction. When the disc between your jaw bones shifts out of place, the ligaments will stretch out or tear. If your jaw appears to be shifted to one side when you open your mouth, this may be the reason.

Disc displacement without reduction

If you find that your mouth suddenly doesn’t open beyond two finger widths, you may have disc displacement without reduction. A locked jaw occurs when the disc has slipped too far out of place, acting as a door jam and preventing the normal range of motion.

Osteoarthritis

If you overexert your jaw with excessive teeth grinding or chewing, you could be at risk of developing osteoarthritis in the TMJ. It could also be caused by trauma, an unnatural bite, or untreated disc displacement without reduction.

If none of the above conditions are the culprit of the pain in your temporomandibular joint, it may be something more serious, including:

  • Osteonecrosis
  • Tumors
  • Systemic arthritis

If Dr. Martin has ruled out the less severe causes for your joint pain, you may be at risk of a more serious cause.

What are my treatment options for TMJ?

To keep your TMJ pain from worsening, it is important to catch it early. A visit to Northwest Dental Services and Denture Implant Center can allow you to feel confident that you will receive the most effective treatment for your particular condition. Treatments for TMJ pain include, but are not limited to:

  • Anti-inflammatory medications
  • Muscle relaxants
  • Physical therapy
  • Oral splints or mouth guards
  • Lifestyle changes
  • TMJ arthroscopy
  • Open-joint surgery

Dr. Martin can determine if your pain can be alleviated with simple changes in your daily routine or if more serious treatment is needed. He prescribes the most effective treatment course to ensure that you can eat and speak as painlessly as possible.

If you’re experiencing jaw pain, you may be suffering from one of the many potential causes of TMJ pain. Call or schedule an appointment online with Northwest Dental Services and Denture Implant Center today for relief.