TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint. (The non-medical term is jaw joint.) These joints allow people to move their jaw to perform important functions, such as chewing and speaking. The TMJ is what permits the jaw to move up and down and to the left and right. Everyone has two jaw joints, one on each side of the skull, located just in front of the ears.
The TMJ acts as a sliding hinge that connects that jawbone to the skull. When the muscles and ligaments around the jaw joints become inflamed or irritated, people can experience considerable pain and discomfort. This is called temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMD), TMJ syndrome, or TMJ disorder.
“I love seeing the excitement my patients experience after starting Botox treatment. You can just tell that they feel like they have had a huge weight lifted off their shoulders. It is life changing to be able to wake up without pain every day.”
— Dr. Mark Phillipe, DDS
Causes of TMJ Syndrome
TMJ syndrome can be caused by a variety of different factors, including:
- Teeth grinding and clenching (known as bruxism)
- Arthritis in the jaw joints
- An improper bite
- Misalignment or erosion of the shock-absorbing disk that separates the bones within the TMJ
Patients may experience more than one of these causes, which can make it difficult to determine the exact cause of a patient’s TMJ syndrome.
In addition, TMJ pain on one side can be an indicator of TMJ syndrome or may also be caused by sinusitis or other dental problems (such as wisdom teeth, cavities, abscesses, or gum disease).
TMJ Syndrome Symptoms
TMJ syndrome is quite common, particularly among women between the ages of 20 to 40. Possible symptoms include:
- Pain or tenderness around the jaw
- Headaches, particularly when waking up in the morning
- Pain and soreness around the face
- Aching pain in or around the ears
- Pain in the neck or shoulders
- Difficulty opening the mouth wide
- Stiff or sore jaw muscles
- Clicking, popping, or grating sounds when opening the mouth
- Difficulty chewing
- Swelling on the side of the face
Diagnosing TMJ Syndrome
Dr. Phillipe will diagnose TMJ syndrome and find the sources of your pain by:
- Observing the range of motion when opening and closing the mouth
- Touching the face to locate areas of discomfort
- Feeling the jaw joints while opening and closing the mouth
- Listening for sounds when the mouth is opening and closing.
X-rays will also be used to determine the scope of any damage that may have occurred to your jaw joints.
Botox for TMJ Pain
TMJ Botox treatment can provide unmatched relief for people suffering from TMJ ear pain, TMJ neck pain, chronic headaches, and painful, sore jaw muscles. For many of our patients who have suffered morning headaches and chronic pain for years, Botox has allowed them to experience effective TMJ pain relief and a huge improvement in their quality of life. For patients experiencing chronic pain, waking up without a headache in the morning can literally be life changing.
Patients who suffer from bruxism often end up with enlarged jawlines. In addition to reducing the pain associated with TMJ syndrome, Botox can help to slim down the jawline—resulting in a more balanced facial appearance.
TMJ Treatment Botox
Botox is a purified protein produced by the Clostridium botulinum bacterium. Botox has been approved by the FDA and is safe to use, although possible risks and side effects may occur as with all medications and medical treatments. Our doctors will fully explain any risks and side effects prior to beginning Botox therapy for TMJ syndrome.
Botox works by preventing the overuse of painful, sore muscles. The injections take just a few minutes and will become effective in 3 to 5 days. Depending on the specific cause and severity of the pain, up to two or three treatments may be needed. Relief often lasts 3 months, but most patients find complete relief after Botox therapy, especially when combined with the use of a mouthguard and/or counseling to reduce anxiety and stress.
Schedule a Consultation for TMJ Pain and Treatment
The first step in finding out if Botox may be effective is to have a consultation to determine the source of the pain. Although many people start with their primary care physicians, they often find that the treatment provided by their physician is not comprehensive enough to eliminate their pain. In addition, Botox treatment is usually not covered by medical insurance. Although dental insurance also does not cover Botox treatment, the treatment we provide at Lakefront Family Dentistry is comprehensive and has a proven track record of success for many of our patients.
If you are suffering from chronic headaches and painful jaw muscles, call us at (951) 244-9495 during business hours to schedule a consultation to determine if we may be able to help. You may also fill out the “Make an Appointment” button below.
Types of Treatments for TMJ
TMJ syndrome can be treated in a variety of ways depending on the specific causes and severity of the pain. After a full clinical examination, Dr. Mark Phillipe will recommend the TMJ treatment that best suits the patient’s needs and is the least invasive. If the first treatment is ineffective, Dr. Phillipe will recommend another treatment or a combination of treatments.
Possible treatment of the temporomandibular joint options include:
- Botox. Many people may be surprised to learn that Botox injections can be used to treat TMJ by relaxing the masseter muscles. More information is provided below.
- Mouthguards/Nightguards. Custom mouthguards are used to help stop teeth grinding (bruxism). Made to fit over a patient’s lower and upper teeth, these devices help reduce teeth grinding and help to correct a patient’s bite. A custom night guard is often used with Botox to protect the teeth and support the jaw joint at night. This combination helps to provide lasting relief and protection from clenching and grinding.
- The first option is the use of over-the-counter anti-inflammatories. If these are ineffective, additional options include prescription-strength ibuprofen or muscle relaxants.
- TMJ Therapy. Various exercises to stretch and strengthen jaw muscles can help reduce TMJ pain. The use of ultrasound treatments, heat, and ice packs may also help reduce discomfort.
- Arthrocentesis is a minimally invasive procedure that flushes fluid out of the TMJ to remove debris and other material that may be causing inflammation.
- In extreme cases where the jaw is misaligned, the doctors may recommend surgery. This will always be a last resort. Our doctors will refer patients to a qualified surgeon if needed.
- If stress and anxiety are playing a role in TMJ syndrome, the doctors may also recommend counseling to help improve the underlying causes.
Find out if Lakefront Family Dentistry can help alleviate your TMJ pain today. Give us a call today (951) 244-9495 or Make an Appointment through our website anytime.