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TMJ Disorders

TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorders are a family of problems related to your complex jaw joint. If you have had symptoms like pain or a “clicking” sound, you’ll be glad to know that these problems are more easily diagnosed and treated than they were in the past. These symptoms occur when the joints of the jaw and the chewing muscles (muscles of mastication) do not work together correctly. TMJ stands for Temporomandibular Joint, which is the name for each joint (right and left) that connects your jaw to your skull. Since some types of TMJ problems can lead to more serious conditions, early detection and treatment are important.

No one treatment can resolve TMJ disorders completely and treatment takes time to become effective.
Dr. Carter can help you have a healthier and more comfortable jaw.

Trouble with Your Jaw?

TMJ disorders develop for many reasons. You might clench or grind your teeth, tightening your jaw muscles and stressing your TM joint. You may have a damaged jaw joint due to injury or disease. Injuries and arthritis can damage the joint directly or stretch or tear the muscle ligaments. As a result, the disk, which is made of cartilage and functions as the cushion of the jaw joint, can slip out of position. Whatever the cause, the results may include a misaligned bite, pain, clicking or grating noise when you open your mouth or trouble opening your mouth wide.

Do You Have a TMJ Disorder?

  • Are you aware of grinding or clenching your teeth?
  • Do you wake up with sore, stiff muscles around your jaws?
  • Do you have frequent headaches or neck aches?
  • Does the pain get worse when you clench your teeth?
  • Does stress make your clenching and pain worse?
  • Does your jaw click, pop, grate, catch, or lock when you open your mouth?
  • Is it difficult or painful to open your mouth, eat or yawn?
  • Have you ever injured your neck, head or jaws?
  • Have you had problems (such as arthritis) with other joints?
  • Do you have teeth that no longer touch when you bite?
  • Do your teeth meet differently from time to time?
  • Is it hard to use your front teeth to bite or tear food?
  • Are your teeth sensitive, loose, broken or worn?

The more times you answered “yes,” the more likely it is that you have a TMJ disorder. Understanding TMJ disorders will also help you understand how they are treated.

TMJ Surgery Overview

For a brief narrated overview of the TMJ surgery process, please click the image on the right. It will launch our flash educational MiniModule in a separate window that may answer some of your questions about TMJ surgery.

TMJ presentation Nashville, TN

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Diagnosis

During your initial consultation, your doctor will evaluate your history & physical exam. Office x-rays will be taken and you may be sent to an imaging center for an MRI. These tests will then help your surgeon determine which course of treatment is most appropriate.

Treatment

There are various treatment options that your doctor can utilize to improve the harmony and function of your jaw. Once an evaluation confirms a diagnosis of TMJ disorder, your doctor will determine the proper course of treatment. It is important to note that treatment always works best with a team approach of self-care as well as professional care.

Treatment Options Include:

  • Dental treatment
  • Medical management
  • Physical therapy
  • Dental splint (mouth piece) treatment
  • OrthodonticsSurgical treatment