|You have been diagnosed as having temporomandibular joint (TMJ) syndrome. The syndrome refers to an irritation of you jaw joint, which is located just in front of your ear. Many people suffer from this syndrome temporarily and never realize it, thinking instead that they have an ear infection. Rarely, this syndrome causes incapacitating symptoms that may require surgery.
The most common symptom associated with TMJ is ear pain. This pain can radiate down into the neck and the throat or up into the temples and back of the head. On occasion, the pain can radiate to the forehead. TMJ frequently simulates other aliments such as ear, nose, or sinus infections. Less common symptoms include ear fullness, ringing in the ears (tinnitus), and dizziness (vertigo). Commonly, patients complain of difficulty and/or pain when opening their mouths.
An otorhinolaryngologist (ear, nose, and throat specialist) commonly diagnoses the TMJ syndrome, but treats only the most minor cases. Frequently it is necessary to refer you to a dentist or an oral surgeon.
The most common cause of TMJ syndrome is teeth clenching or grinding which often occurs while sleeping. Overuse of the jaw joint, as in gum chewing or pen biting, constitutes the next largest cause. When your bite is incorrect, your teeth come together improperly causing stress in the jaw joint. The end result can be TMJ syndrome. Ironically, this frequently occurs after a new filing cap is placed in the dentist=s office. Prolonged jaw opening while having dental work performed can result in a temporary TMJ syndrome.
Treatment is directed toward eliminating any obvious causes. In addition, the jaw joint should be rested for approximately one week. We tell our patients to think of this as they would a chronic knee injury.
Here are some guidelines in helping your TMJ symptoms:
We enjoy teaching our patients about our diagnosis(es) and treatment plan that we have recommended. We believe that with this education, our patients are mostly to get better and stay better.
These information sheets are intended for use by our patients in conjunction with regular care from Drs. Siegel and Bosworth. Use of these sheets by other can lead to a delay in diagnosis with potential worsening of health. If you are not one of our patients, please schedule an appointment so that we can help you to feel better as soon as possible.