TMJ

TMJ Specialist
TMJ disorder (temporomandibular joint disorder) can become painful, if not treated. At Balboa Island Dentistry, located in Newport Beach, California, Dr. Stephen G. Alfano has extensive experience in designing oral mouth guards that remedy TMJ disorder for patients throughout the greater Newport beach area.

TMJ Q & A

by Stephen G. Alfano, DDS

What's TMJ?

TMJ is an abbreviation that stands for temporomandibular joint. TMD is an abbreviation that stands for temporomandibular disorder. It's a disorder that causes pain and discomfort. Many people use the abbreviations interchangeably.  

What's the Temporomandibular Joint?

The temporomandibular joint connects a patient's jawbone to his or her skull. Every person has one temporomandibular joint on each side of his or her jaw. Sometimes, a patient develops an issue with this joint that can affect both the joint and the muscles that control movement in the jaw.

What Causes Temporomandibular Joint Disorder?

The exact cause of TMJ disorder isn't always known. Genetics, a jaw injury, arthritis, or malocclusion may lead to TMJ syndrome. Clenching or grinding the teeth may have the potential to lead to TMJ. However, not every patient who grinds or clenches develops pain or symptoms. The disc between the jaw and the skull may move or erode and lead to TMJ syndrome.

What Symptoms Does TMJ /TMD Cause?

Patients who have TMD may experience pain or tenderness in the jaw. Some patients only have the issue occurring in one joint, whereas others experience symptoms in both. Patients with TMD can experience an aching pain in their ears. They may even have difficulty chewing. In some cases, patients may have an aching feeling in their face. The jaw may lock up and make it difficult for the patient to chew. Patients may notice a clicking noise in their jaw when they open their mouth.

Is TMD Chronic?

In a majority of cases, it is chronic. However, the condition can often be relieved using self-care techniques. In addition, a dentist can prescribe a splint or a mouth guard that is usually very effective. A dentist can also prescribe certain medications to relieve the pain, including a corticosteroid injection. Only in rare instances do patients require more invasive procedures, such as surgery.

Is the Dental Appliance Uncomfortable?

The dentist sizes the equipment accordingly, so the discomfort is minimal. It tends to go away with time and adjusting the device.

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