Joseph R. Cohen, DDS
14861 N Cave Creek Road
Phoenix, Arizona 85032
TMJ Doctors in Phoenix Can Help
TMD, often referred to as TMJ is a term for conditions that effect the joints that are located in front of each ear which connect the lower jaw bone to the skull. These joints assist in biting, chewing and swallowing food, speaking, and making facial expressions. Individuals with TMJ/TMD problems typically experience jaw pain and/or limited jaw movement, as well as the potential for a myriad of other conditions/symptoms.
TMJ pain is often confused with ear pain or earaches, neck and shoulder pain, and even migraine headaches. These disorders can be caused or exacerbated by injuries to the jaw area, arthritis, dental procedures, genetics, infections, auto-immune diseases, bite misalignment, and repeatedly clenching or grinding the teeth (while awake or asleep). Also common (often subconscious) habits such as habitual gum chewing, nail biting, and lip or cheek biting can contribute to TMD. Some people with TMJ problems notice that their symptoms may be exacerbated by stress.
In addition to pain and limited movement in the jaw joint, TMJ problems can also cause neck and shoulder pain; headaches; jaw muscle stiffness; a clicking or popping sound that accompanies opening or closing the mouth; a change in how the teeth fit together; ear ringing or pain; decreased hearing; dizziness and vision problems.
In some cases, TMJ problems are temporary. Mild or what is referred to as “time-limited” TMJ issues can often be treated with the application of ice and moist heat. Eating soft foods and avoiding extreme jaw movements, such as wide yawning and gum chewing, may also be successful strategies for coping with mild TMJ problems.
Severe and more long-lasting (chronic) TMJ problems should be evaluated by a dentist who has expertise in the treatment of TMD, or those doctors specializing in the treatment of Orofacial pain.
These doctors can evaluate the causes of TMJ issues, and design a treatment strategy that is most appropriate for each patient. Some treatments for TMJ problems are focused on changing the bite. These treatments can include crown and bridge work (i.e., restoring or replacing natural teeth), orthodontic appliances, repositioning splints, and procedures to grind down problematic teeth in order to correct misalignment (also called a malocclusion).
Other treatments for severe TMJ problems involve non-surgical intervention and physical therapy to correct issues arising from over use of the jaw.
Surgical procedures for TMJ issues are becoming less common as more and more non-surgical treatment options for TMD are becoming more widely available.