TMJ Disorder: Is oral surgery necessary?

Many patients come to a dentist with complaints of pain and headaches that do not seem to have a cause.

Often, the culprit in these cases is a temporomandibular joint disorder, or a problem with the jaw. The jaw joint, where the mandible (lower jawbone) meets the skull, is a complex structure that facilitates all of the movements that the jaw needs to make in order to chew and speak properly. Each side of the head has a TMJ.

Other symptoms of TMJ disorders including popping or cracking of the jaw and jaws that lock up frequently. Neck and ear pain may also be associated with TMJ disorders.

As such, TMJ disorders can arise from any number of factors, including stress, facial injury or congenital problems. With expertise in the structures of the jaw, an oral surgeon can be helpful in confirming a TMJ disorder diagnosis and identifying the root problem causing the condition. The oral surgeon will typically conduct a visual examination and take x-rays or use other imaging techniques as part of this process.

Treatment for TMJ disorders should correspond to the cause. Patients may respond to conservative treatments, such as pain management with over-the-counter medications, stress management, physical therapy or muscle relaxation techniques.

An oral surgeon may also been involved in treating TMJ disorders when patients do not respond to less invasive measures or if damage to the joint is the obvious cause of the pain.

When oral surgery is indicated, the surgeon will plan the procedure based on the specific jaw problem that is causing the TMJ disorder. The patient may need to go to an outpatient surgical center or a hospital, based on the procedure’s complexity. Your oral surgeon can also give you guidance on how to prepare for the surgery and recommend an aftercare regimen at home.

Oral surgery can be an effective solution for TMJ disorders, so if you have not had any success with other treatment approaches, contact Charlottesville Oral Surgery & Dental Implant Center at 434-295-0911 to learn about your other options.

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