TMJ is a painful, often confusing condition. The name TMJ is an acronym for the temporomandibular joint, which is the jaw joint. Afflictions of this joint are called temporomandibular joint disorder, which is abbreviated TMD or TMJD, although it is often simply referred to as "TMJ." Because the condition is just as complex as the many names it goes by, diagnosis and treatment should be trusted to a specialist.
Dr. Andrew Spath specializes in TMJ disorder, offering a variety of non-surgical options. Effective treatment requires exceptional knowledge of the oral musculoskeletal structure. The TMJ involves an intricate network of bones, muscles, cartilage, and a shock-absorbing disk. This tiny joint is capable of sliding or hinge motions, and exerting tremendous force.
Nearly anything that disrupts the perfect synchronization of elements in this joint has potential to inhibit proper functioning, and bring about a variety of painful symptoms. The cause of TMJ disorder can be as simple as a habit, as complex as a rare medical disorder, or a combination of several factors. Sometimes, the exact cause is unknown.
- Bruxism (teeth grinding) – Many people think they don't grind their teeth or clench their jaws, but this can occur during sleep. It can be the sole cause of TMJ disorder, or exacerbate the condition.
- Malocclusion (bite problems) – Prefect alignment is needed for optimal jaw functioning. Problems such as overbite, underbite, or crossbite can put undue stress on the muscles, ligaments, and joint. In some cases, misalignment is more of a symptom than a cause – there may be another problem causing the misalignment.
- Injury – Whether minor or major, any injury affecting your jaw has the potential to cause or aggravate TMJ disorder.
- Medical conditions – Joint damage resulting from conditions such as arthritis can displace the disk, or otherwise inhibit proper jaw functioning, leading to TMJ disorder.
The best treatment varies greatly, because each case is unique. Dr. Spath develops an individualized treatment plan for each patient, using gentle techniques such as neuromuscular massage, oral appliance therapy, and bite reconstruction. With the right choice of conservative options, surgery is rarely needed for effective treatment.
From an annoying click to disabling migraines, TMJ disorder can take a toll on your health, happiness, and quality of life. Dr. Spath is one of the leading specialists, and he is passionate about bringing relief from this excruciating condition. If you have been diagnosed with, or you are concerned about, TMJ disorder, call (949) 612 2356 and schedule an appointment today.
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