TMJS is a potentially life-altering condition characterized by intense pain in what is known as the temporomandibular joint – the joint connecting the jaw to the skull. Its symptoms include a dull, aching pain; sounds of clicking, popping or grating when opening and closing the mouth; difficulty with biting and chewing; earaches and headaches caused by jaw tension; pain in the neck or shoulders; tinnitus and, in some cases, dizziness.
It can have many causes – one of the most common is grinding or clenching your teeth compulsively and unconsciously, but it can occur as a part of other diseases of the joints or trauma to the face, as well as sometimes being the product of a great deal of gum chewing, yawing and sneezing or other exaggerated opening of the mouth. Even stress can cause TMJ syndrome in some cases – as it can cause people to clench their jaws tightly on too frequent a basis, which can harm them.
If you’re worried about TMJ syndrome, Los Angeles has several clinics and specialists that can help. Sometimes it can be cured by fixing a dental problem – sorting out the damage to what they call the “occlusal surfaces” of the mouth. In other cases you may need a splint, a mouth guard to prevent bruxism while sleeping, or simply a course of painkillers. If you’re experiencing TMJ syndrome as part of another condition, the treatment you receive for that condition will likely also help with your TMJ syndrome.
In particularly bad cases, TMJ syndrome is treated with surgery. There are three kinds of surgery practiced on TMJ syndrome sufferers:
- Arthrocentesis: All dentists can perform this surgery, as it is a relatively minor procedure. It’s what is used to ‘unlock’ a jaw that has seized up; the procedure generally involves inserting needles and using them to wash out the joint with sterile fluids.
- Arthroscopy: This is a slightly more serious procedure, and requires a general anaesthetic. The surgeon inspects the TMJ on a computer screen via a sort of keyhole incision and surrounding area before removing inflamed tissue and realigning the joint.
- Open-joint surgery: The most invasive and complicated of the fixes for TMJ syndrome, open-joint surgery is only performed in extreme cases where all other forms of treatment have failed. The entire area around the TMJ is exposed, allowing full access to the surgeon. Recovery can be lengthy and difficult, and this process is best avoided if at all possible.
If you’re suffering with TMJ syndrome, your TMJ specialists Los Angeles is there to help – they should be your first port of call for diagnosis and treatment, and in many cases it will need go no further than one or two visits and some simple adjustments to your lifestyle or habits. There’s a possibility that more severe cases may require referral to a specialist, but please don’t stress unduly – TMJ syndrome is extremely responsive to treatment, and there is no need at all to suffer with it for long.