Improve Jaw Function and Alleviate Pain
The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is located in front of your ears and connects your jaw to your skull. Every day, this joint works hard to bite, chew, and speak. Genetics, arthritis, or injury can cause pain in the joint and in the muscles that control jaw movement. Some people develop TMJ disorders from clenching or grinding their teeth (bruxism).
Dr. Karas is both an oral surgeon and physician who prioritizes your health and safety. Muir Oral, Facial, & Dental Implant Surgery offers both surgical and nonsurgical options to treat TMJ disorders so that your jaws can function properly without causing pain or discomfort.
Signs of a TMJ Disorder
It’s hard to determine the exact cause of a TMJ disorder. Some people who habitually grind their teeth never develop any issues, while others do. A small articular disk sits above the lower jaw where it connects at the joint. This disk is involved in moving and gliding the jaw and can become displaced due to a number of issues. A slipping TMJ can be painful and is often linked to many symptoms of a TMJ disorder. Surgery can reposition the disk, while physical therapy or medication can relieve pain and relax the muscles.
You may have a TMJ disorder if you experience any of the following:
- Locking of the joint, making it difficult to fully open or close your mouth
- Facial pain
- Jaw pain or tenderness
- Pain in or around the temporomandibular joint
- Difficulty chewing
- Pain around your ear
- Clicking or popping sound when you open your mouth
You should seek medical attention if you have persistent pain in the TMJ or if you cannot open or close your mouth.
Treating TMJ Disorders
First, schedule an appointment with our board-certified surgeon, Dr. Nestor Karas. At your first visit, he will examine your jaw and take 3D scans using our advanced digital scanning technology. As with any procedure, we offer several anesthesia and sedation options to help you feel as comfortable as possible, and Dr. Karas will discuss these with you.
Nonsurgical treatments, such as night guards or physical therapy, are always considered first. If these methods do not work, surgical intervention may be necessary. Sometimes, an arthroscopy is a small tube with a camera attached that is inserted into the joint space to determine a diagnosis. If surgical treatment is deemed necessary, there are several options that Dr. Karas will consider before determining the right method for your specific condition, including:
- Arthrocentesis. A small needle is inserted to irrigate the joint and remove debri and inflammatory byproducts.
- Injections. Corticosteroid injections can help relax the muscles.
- Arthroscopy. While also used to help diagnose, arthroscopic surgery involves the same method of attaching a small camera to a tube so that your surgeon can operate on the joint and reposition muscles or the disk.
- Orthognathic Surgery. In some cases, the joint may be an indication of a larger jaw misalignment problem. Corrective jaw surgery repositions the jaws and improves biting, chewing, and speaking, as well as alleviates facial pain.
Our team will walk you through your options and guide you through every step of your oral surgery journey. It is our goal to help you improve your oral health and quality of life by relieving pain and discomfort. If you have a TMJ disorder or would like to explore your treatment options, please contact our office in Walnut Creek, CA, today.
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