TMJ

Dr. Sidney M. Craft

Orthodontist located in Houston, TX & The Woodlands, TX

Constant pain or clicking in your jaw could be a sign that you’re suffering from TMJ disorder, a condition that affects the joint in your jaw and its surrounding muscles. If you’re experiencing symptoms of TMJ disorder, Sidney M. Craft, Jr., DDS, can help. With convenient locations in Houston and The Woodlands, Texas, the offices of Dr. Sidney M. Craft are a trusted resource for alleviating your TMJ pain and rehabilitating your jaw. To learn more, schedule an appointment today by calling the office nearest you or booking a visit online.

TMJ Q & A

What is TMJ disorder?

Your temporomandibular joint (or TMJ) is the joint that connects your jawbone to your skull. It’s a fairly complex joint with a hinge-like structure that also facilitates a sliding motion, and is located right in front of your ear on either side of your head. TMJ disorder (or TMD) is a condition that causes pain in the joint and in the surrounding muscles that control the movement of your jaw.

What causes TMJ disorder?

The pieces of bone that interact with one another in the TMJ are covered in a layer of cartilage and cushioned by a small shock-absorbing disc, all of which serve to keep your jaw movements smooth. TMJ disorders can develop if there’s a problem with this cushioning system, such as if:

  • The disc erodes or shifts out of alignment
  • Arthritis compromises the cartilage in the joint
  • Physical trauma impairs the joint

The exact cause of a person’s TMJ disorder is typically difficult to identify, though, and could ultimately be due to a combination of factors, like genetics, arthritis, or jaw injury. Other prominent risk factors for developing TMJ disorder include:

  • Certain connective tissue diseases
  • Chronic grinding or clenching of the teeth (bruxism)

Bruxism is a frequent cause of TMJ disorder, though grinding or clenching your teeth doesn’t always necessarily lead to the development of the disorder.

Do I have TMJ?

Some of the symptoms of TMJ disorder include:

  • Pain and tenderness in and around your jaw
  • Aching pain near your ear
  • Aching facial pain
  • Pain while chewing or difficulty chewing
  • A clicking or grating sensation when you open or close your mouth or chew
  • A “locking” of your jaw joint that prohibits you from smoothly opening and closing your mouth

The level of severity of these symptoms varies widely. If you have a clicking or popping in your joint, but no pain or limited range of motion in your jaw, you might not need treatment.

How do I treat TMJ?

TMJ disorder is typically treatable with self-managed care and non-surgical methods. During your visit to the office of Dr. Sidney M. Craft, if you receive a TMJ diagnosis, your practitioner might recommend that you try:

  • Over-the-counter pain medications or prescribed muscle relaxants
  • Hot and cold compresses to relax your jaw muscles
  • Giving your jaw muscles a rest by eating softer foods and avoiding chewing gum
  • Physical therapy for your jaw to stretch and strengthen your jaw muscles
  • Counseling to curb any habitual teeth grinding or clenching
  • An oral splint or a custom-designed mouthguard to mitigate the damage caused by clenching and grinding

Surgery for TMJ disorder is available but is typically a last resort for patients whose symptoms haven’t responded to more conservative treatment methods.

Find relief from your TMJ pain today by scheduling an appointment with the dedicated experts at Dr. Sidney M. Craft. You can book your visit by calling the office nearest you or use the convenient online scheduling tool.