Your temporomandibular joint (TMJ) connects your lower jawbone to your skull’s temporal bone and allows you to move your jaw fluidly as you yawn, chew, and speak. When this joint becomes adversely affected or injured, a patient may suffer from facial pain and tenderness in his or her shoulders, neck, and cheeks. Biting problems and constant headaches are also other symptoms. The discomfort and pain that arise from TMJ disorders can persist for many years.
While TMJ disorders share symptoms with other problems such as a toothache or gum disease, dentists can effectively diagnose TMJ problems through a thorough examination of the mouth, jaw joints, bite and muscle function. Treatments for TMJ disorder depend on the severity of the problem. Basic treatments such as applying cold or heat packs to alleviate the pain, as well as painkillers. Permanent solutions come in the form of laser therapy, the wearing of night guards and corrective bite appliances, and braces, dental bridges, or crowns. For extreme cases, radio wave therapy and surgery may be used.