Your Jaw Pain, Clicking, and Soreness Could Be TMJ Disorder

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Senior Man with Jaw PainDo you wake up in the morning with a sore jaw, or suffer from chronic headaches? When you open your mouth, do you hear popping or clicking sounds emanating from your jaw? Do you experience trouble opening or closing your jaw completely? You may be part of the 25 percent of our population who suffer from TMD, or temporomandibular joint disorder.

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ), assists in the basic opening and closing movements of the jaw. Unfortunately, this joint is a common area for recurring pain. TMJ disorder affects the joint by causing this pain and limiting the movement of the patient’s jaw.

Dr. Richard Hada has years of experience helping patients with TMJ disorder. He can examine your jaws and determine if you suffer from TMJ disorder, then suggest an appropriate treatment.

To learn more about TMJ disorder and how it can affect you, call our Mission Viejo, CA, dental office today at (949) 951-1067 and schedule a consultation with Dr. Hada.

What is TMJ Disorder?

TMJ disorder is a condition in which the temporomandibular joints connecting the upper and lower jaw do not function correctly. These joints help the lower jaw move, allowing you to open and close your mouth with ease.

When the joints, and their attached muscles, fail to work together correctly, it can cause a painful misalignment we refer to as TMJ disorder. Dr. Hada will perform a check for occlusion, which refers to how your upper and lower jaws meet when you bite, to determine if you have TMJ disorder.

Symptoms of TMJ Disorder

TMJ disorder can present many different symptoms. Unfortunately, most of these symptoms also occur with other problems, so you may find it hard to know for sure if you have TMJ disorder. The doctor will carefully examine your mouth and jaw and take detailed x-rays to help them make their diagnosis.

Symptoms of TMD include:

  • Dull headaches in the temple area
  • Popping or clicking sounds in your jaw when you open your mouth
  • Sudden misalignment of the upper and lower teeth
  • Persistent pain in the jaw, especially when chewing or yawning
  • Pain similar to an earache, when you have no ear problems
  • Jaw getting stuck or locking

If you experience persistent pain in your jaw, or cannot completely open or close it, call us immediately so Dr. Hada can make a diagnosis and recommend treatment.

Diagnosing TMD

Diagnosing TMJ disorder can prove tricky, with so many possible symptoms that could indicate other problems. Dr. Hada recommends discussing your symptoms with your primary care physician as well, so he or she can rule out any other health problems that may have the same symptoms.

Dr. Hada can perform a TMJ exam, in which he examines the joint tissue in the “hinge” of the jaw. Possible problems he may find in this area include swelling and deterioration or damage to the joint tissue, which cushions the jaw bones during the opening and closing movement of the mouth. If Dr. Hada determines that you have TMJ disorder, he will recommend a course of treatment best suited to your condition.

Treating Your TMD

You have several treatment options available to treat TMJ disorder, ranging from home remedies to prescription medications and mouth guards. Typically, the doctor will recommend trying the most conservative home treatments first, as most cases of TMJ disorder do not require aggressive treatment.

Simple home remedies may include options such as eating soft foods, using heat packs on the jaw to alleviate inflammation, and avoiding foods like caramels and chewing gum. The doctor may also suggest trying relaxation techniques like meditation to relax the jaw tension, and temporarily avoiding activities such as gum chewing, singing, yawning, and other activities that involve a lot of jaw movement.

Common pain relievers and cold compresses can provide temporary relief from swelling and pain for most cases of TMJ. If these remedies fail to provide any relief, Dr. Hada can prescribe muscle relaxers or anti-inflammatory drugs to try and relax the jaw muscles.

For many patients, the doctor will suggest a mouth guard called an occlusal splint. Worn at night, while you sleep, a mouth guard prevents your teeth from coming together and grinding, and forces your jaw into proper alignment.

For more serious cases of TMJ, Dr. Hada may recommend alternate treatments. In some cases, he will provide orthodontic appliances or retainers to alleviate discomfort or redirect positioning of the TMJ joint.

For the most severe cases of TMJ, the doctor may recommend certain invasive procedures, such as surgery or implants. He typically considers these options last resort solutions when all other treatments fail to provide results.

Call Us Today

To schedule a consultation with Dr. Hada to discuss Possible TMJ disorder, call our Mission Viejo, CA, dental office today at (949) 951-1067.