Do you wake up with a sore jaw? Do you teeth seem to be getting shorter? Are you teeth sensitive to cold and hot? You may suffer from TMJ problems. There are many misconceptions about it—but Dr. Garrett is here to clear up the facts about this common jaw disorder.

TMJ stands for Temporomandibular joint. This is the joint that connects your lower jaw to the temporal bones of your skull. The two TMJ joints work together as a pair.  The TMJ joints work like a sliding hinge to move your jaw up and down.

Problems with this joint are often referred to as just TMJ. However, TMD, or temporomandibular disorders, is the more accurate term. TMD is a complex and poorly understood condition, but it typically results in pain in and around the jaw. TMD can affect your ability to chew, speak and make some facial expressions. In some cases, it may even affect your breathing and cause ringing in your ear.

What causes TMD? There are thought to be many factors, such as misaligned upper and lower teeth, injury to the jaw, grinding your teeth, stress, and arthritis.

Symptoms of TMD include pain when chewing, popping, clicking or grinding noises in the jaw, headaches, earaches, trouble opening and closing the mouth, a locked jaw, and pain and/or tenderness around the joint.

Approximately 12% of people in the US are affected by TMD. TMD is more common in women than men.

Problems related to TMD can affect not only the joint itself but also your teeth and head. TMD problems can lead people to grind their teeth which can harm the teeth causing fractures and broken teeth. This compounds and can make the TMD worse. It becomes a vicious cycle if not corrected. TMD can cause headeaches and muscle problems. Again, this can cause more grinding and clinching and make the problem worse.

Treatments for TMD vary depending on the severity of the damage. First we start with a mouth guard to protect the teeth and take pressure off of the joint. Most people wear this at night and tolerate it well. We have different types of mouth guards and Dr Garrett can discuss which will work best for you. We also can use pharmaceuticals such as muscle relaxers and anti-inflammatories to help the muscles around the joint. A newer techinique with promising results is Botox injections in the muscles around the joint. This relaxes the muscles so the joint strain is removed. Lastly we consider surgery with an Oral Maxillofacial Surgeon if no other treatments work.

If you think you or someone in your family may have TMJ syndrome, make an appointment with Dr Garrett to see how we can help.

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