The temporomandibular joint (TMJ), more commonly referred to as the jaw joint, assists in the basic opening and closing movements of the jaw. When a person has pain in this joint it is called temporomandibular dysfunction (TMD). Unfortunately, this joint is a common area for recurring pain. Although conventional wisdom suggests that popping and clicking sounds in the jaw indicates a TMJ dysfunction, this is not always true. These sounds do indicate that there is and was some damage that has been done to the joint if pain is present or not. Our goal at Bellevue Dental Arts (BDA) is to make sure these changes will not become debilitating.
Whether this damage is progressive or not, at BDA Drs. Chiang, who have extensive education in treating TMD, offer a TMJ exam that evaluates the joint. Possible problems include swelling; deterioration or damage to the joint soft tissue; and degenerative changes to the condyle, which is the boney section of the joint. Common pain relievers, stress relief, night guards, and warm compresses can provide temporary and sometimes long-term relief for most cases of TMD.
For more serious cases of TMD, our dental team will recommend alternate treatments. Often, we will suggest using a splint to relax the surrounding muscles and provide relief for the joint. This will slow down the degenerative changes; but in the most extreme cases, Drs. Chiang will instruct you to visit the orthodontist for further evaluation.