TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorders are a family of problems related to your jaw joint. If you have had symptoms like pain or a “clicking” sound, you’ll be glad to know that these problems are more easily diagnosed and treated than they were in the past. These symptoms occur when the joints of the jaw and the chewing muscles do not work together correctly. TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint, which is the name for each joint (right and left) that connects your jaw to your skull. Since some types of TMJ problems can lead to more serious conditions, early detection and treatment are important.

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No one treatment can resolve TMJ disorders completely and treatment takes time to become effective. Dr. Semidey can help you have a healthier, more comfortable jaw.

Trouble with your jaw?

TMJ disorders develop for many reasons. You might clench or grind your teeth, tightening your jaw muscles and stressing your TM joint. You may have a damaged jaw joint due to injury or disease. Injuries and arthritis can damage the joint directly or stretch or tear the muscle ligaments. As a result, the disk, which is made of cartilage and functions as the “cushion” of the jaw joint, can slip out of position. Whatever the cause, the results may include a misaligned bite, pain, clicking, or grating noise when you open your mouth, or trouble opening your mouth wide.

Do You Have a TMJ Disorder?

  • Are you aware of grinding or clenching your teeth?
  • Do you wake up with sore, stiff muscles around your jaws?
  • Do you have frequent headaches or neck aches?
  • Does the pain get worse when you clench your teeth?
  • Does stress make your clenching and pain worse?
  • Does your jaw click, pop, grate, catch, or lock when you open your mouth?
  • Is it difficult or painful to open your mouth, eat, or yawn?
  • Have you ever injured your neck, head, or jaws?
  • Have you had problems (such as arthritis) with other joints?
  • Do you have teeth that no longer touch when you bite?
  • Do your teeth meet differently from time to time?
  • Is it hard to use your front teeth to bite or tear food?
  • The more times you answered “yes”, the more likely it is that you have a TMJ disorder. Understanding TMJ disorders will also help you understand how they are treated.

TMJ Treatment

There are various treatment options for TMJ that can utilize to improve the harmony and function of your jaw. Once an evaluation confirms a diagnosis of TMJ disorder, Dr. Semidey will determine the proper course of treatment. 

The initial goals are to relieve the muscle spasms and joint pain through a conservative non-surgical approach. This is usually accomplished with a pain reliever, anti-inflammatory, or muscle relaxant. Steroids can be injected directly into the joints to reduce pain and inflammation. Self-care treatments can often be effective as well and include:

  • Resting your jaw
  • Keeping your teeth apart when you are not swallowing or eating
  • Eating soft foods
  • Applying ice and heat
  • Exercising your jaw
  • Practicing good posture

Stress management techniques such as biofeedback or physical therapy may also be recommended, as well as a clear plastic appliance known as a splint. A splint (or TMJ nightguard) fits over your top or bottom teeth and helps keep your teeth apart at night and prevents abnormal pressure that would have been exerted to your TMJ especially if you grind your teeth at night. Most of us are unaware if we grind our teeth at night. A TMJ nightguard helps you if your grinding your teeth and reduces muscle tension at night. It also helps to protect the cartilage and joint surfaces of the TMJ.  A TMJ night guard also help protect tooth wear.

What about TMJ surgery if conservative therapy fails?

If conservative therapy fails to resolve your issues Dr. Semidey will discuss with you the available surgical techniques used to treat a variety of TMJ issues. This surgical procedure will be tailored to your specific need based on your specific problem with your TMJ. From an arthrocentesis/arthroscopy to open joint surgery (arthroplasty) their are several surgical methods that are available for patients who suffer from a TMJ disorder that have failed conservative management. 

Please call our office at Naples Office Phone Number 239-597-3300 to schedule your consultation and discuss available treatment options for your TMJ issue.