Your jaw feels super stiff as you try to open and close your mouth, and more often than not, your face hurts. Your spouse says that your jaw seems to make odd clicking noises when you chew your food. Thankfully, your Irvine, CA dentist, Dr. Greg Schinnerer, will get to the bottom of your discomforts and help you regain normal jaw function.
What is TMJ/TMD?
TMJ/TMD refers to a collection of symptoms related to the joints which operate the jaw. Located on the right and left sides of the face, the temporomandibular joints are made up of the upper and lower jaw bones, muscles, connective tissue and two disc-like pads. When this complex mechanism becomes unbalanced due to wear and tear, oral injury or an inflammatory condition such as arthritis, TMJ/TMD, or temporomandibular joint dysfunction, results.
Research from the National Institute for Dental and Craniofacial shows that more women than men seek treatment for temporomandibular joint dysfunction; however, people of all ages and lifestyles seem to suffer from it. The symptoms of jaw joint dysfunction may include:
- Odd popping or clicking noises emanating from the joint when eating or opening/closing the mouth
- Ear pain
- Light sensitivity
- Jaw stiffness and swelling
- Neck and shoulder pain
In his experience, your Irvine dentist finds that symptoms are wide-ranging and fluctuate, making diagnosis difficult.
How to diagnose and treat TMJ/TMD
When you come to Dr. Schinnerer's office for evaluation of your jaw joints, he'll listen carefully to the description of your symptoms. He'll gently feel the sides of your face and ask you to open and close your mouth. He also will take digital X-rays to see if your discomfort is related to a dental abscess or decay or to tooth misalignment.
Depending on his findings, he may recommend:
- Ice to reduce swelling
- Over the counter analgesics to relieve pain and inflammation
- Stretching exercises or other physical therapy
- Orthodontic correction (braces or clear aligners)
- Crowns to even bite
- Oral appliance therapy
The last intervention helps cushion teeth clenching and grinding (bruxism) which are often unconscious but can cause considerable wear and tear on teeth, gums and the jaw joints. Worn at night, these acrylic appliances are customized according to oral impressions and Dr. Schinnerer's specifications. Oral appliance therapy helps avoid more invasive interventions.
Find out more
Don't continue in your pain. Contact Dr. Schinnerer for a TMJ/TMD evaluation in Irvine, CA. He's been named a Top Dentist for five consecutive years by the Consumer Research Council of America; so rest assured you'll receive the best of care. Call today: (949) 552-1701.