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TMJ Disorders

Temporomandibular joint dysfunction also called TMJ disorder are common in both men and women. Women ages 19-49 years are five times more likely to suffer from temporomandibular joint disorders than men in the same age group. This explains why women constitute the majority of patients seeking TMJ pain relief. Dr. Khalifeh is a board certified TMJ disorder specialist in los Angeles. He will explain TMJ disorders causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment. 

What is the TMJ?

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the hinge joint of your jaws. It is located directly in front of your ear. This joint allows your mouth to open and close properly. The temporal part of the joint is a shallow socket called the articulating fossa while the mandibular part of the joint is a rounded bony projection called the condyle.

Between the fossa and the condyle located the cartilage disc. This disc helps the jaw to move smoothly without friction. The boney structures of the joint and the disc are surrounded by a fibrous sheet called the capsule. The movement of the jaw is carried out by the muscles of mastication and limited by ligaments.

What are TMJ disorders (TMD)?

TMJ disorders (TMD) are any hindrance your body has developed which impedes the TMJ from functioning properly. TMD can affect the boney part of the joint and the related structures.

TMJ disorders affecting the boney parts are called arthritis. While, myalgia and myofascial pain syndrome of the TMD may also be associated with pain and fatigue of the chewing muscles.

The terms TMJ and TMD are used interchangeably. TMJ technically refers to the joint itself, while TMD refers to the condition or problem associated with the joint. 

What are the causes of TMJ disorders?

One or more of the following are listed as possible causes for temporomandibular joint disorders:

  • Stress
  • Trauma to the jaw
  • Genetics
  • Bruxism which includes clinching and grinding the teeth
  • Arthritis and autoimmune diseases
  • Abnormal bite relation
  • Infection 
  • Tumors and cancer involving the TMJ

Why TMJ disorders are so common?

Temporomandibular joint disorder so common because this condition can be caused in numerous ways. TMJ disorders can be categorized in two types: Firstly, muscle generated pain known as myogenous TMD. Secondly, jaw joint generated pain is called arthrogenous TMD.

TMJ pain varies greatly depending on the cause. The treatment also depends on what is going wrong in your joint. TMD can be caused by arthritis which can develop from joint injury followed by wrong healing. Joint arthritis also may develop from teeth grinding and jaw clinching.

Does teeth-grinding and jaw clinching damage the TMJ?

Teeth grinding often happens without a patient realizing it. Prolonged teeth grinding causes spasms of your jaw muscles, headaches, and stiffness in your jaw. Additionally, jaw clinching can put pressure on the joint that can cause inflammation and breakdown of the joint itself. Your dentist may prescribe a custom mouth guard made from molds or digital scans of your teeth. Although an occlusal guard known also as occlusal splint cannot stop grinding, it may work to relieve your TMD symptoms. Some TMJ disorders can also be caused by dislocation of the cartilage disc. Disc dislocation may be associated with painful clicking sound of your jaw joint when you open or close the mouth.

Untreated TMD conditions may cause tears and permanent damage to the cushioning joint disc. Damage to the joint disc will make jaw movement difficult and painful. This is why TMD patients should seek help as early as possible to avoid permanent joint damage. Splints, mouth guards, and physical therapy can be used to relieve pain associated with TMD.

What are the symptoms of TMJ Disorders?

Patients with TMJ disorder (TMD) might have one or more of the following symptoms.

  1. Pain in the jaw joint, ear and the jaw.
  2. Headache.
  3. Neck pain.
  4. Tooth ache.
  5. Soreness in the muscles of mastication.
  6. Clicking and popping joint.
  7. Pain when chewing food.
  8. Inability to open the mouth normally.
  9. Deviated jaw on mouth opening.
  10. Locked jaw. Open lock or close lock.
  11. Tinnitus or ringing sound in one or both ears.
  12. Enlargement of the jaw muscles.

How to diagnose TMJ pain disorders?

TMJ disorders, among the most common, irritating and difficult to diagnose problems. TMD is usually associated with head and neck pain. TMD is common in all ages. Like other joints in the body, the Temporomandibular joint is subjected to inflammation, orofacial pain, and other chronic joint problems.

What makes the Temporomandibular joint problems difficult to diagnose and treat properly is the fact that the TMD symptoms vary widely in both location and severity. TMD symptoms can range from simple pain free jaw clicking to severe head and neck pain. However, these symptoms may not be relieved by commonly used pain medications.

In conclusion, reviewing the history of the problem and a comprehensive clinical evaluation are crucial for diagnosis of TMJ disorders. However, we might order medical imaging like panoramic x-ray, 3D CBCT scans and MRI whenever we feel these imaging are needed. 

What is the best TMJ disorders treatment in Los Angeles?

Once diagnosed properly, treatment starts with patient education about TMD. After that, DR. Khalifeh will start by placing his patients on self-treatment protocol which is very effective for most patients with TMJ pain disorders. Firstly, he recommends avoidance therapy by avoiding overworking and excessive use of the jaw muscle. An example of avoidance therapy is to avoid chewing gum, eating large bites and chewy food. Secondly, Dr. Khalifeh teaches TMD patients how to use thermal therapy, stretching exercises and massage therapy to alleviate their TMD pain symptoms. 

In conclusion, Temporomandibular joint dysfunction treatment may include anything from simple placement of a night guard to surgical treatment for severe cases. Some patients get help from using trigger points injection or BOTOX for TMJ. However, Sodium Hyaluronate, steroids and PRF injections may be used for painful TMJ arthritis.

Additionally, a wide range of medications are commonly used to treat TMD. Examples of these medications are anti-inflammatories such as Ibuprofen, muscle relaxants such as Valium and antidepressant medications. Our goal is to help TMD patients get maximum relief using the least invasive none-surgical TMJ treatment. 

What is the best doctor to see for TMJ disorders in Los Angeles?

Although mild TMD cases can be managed by a well-trained general dentist, advanced cases require a TMJ Disorders specialist. Orofacial pain specialists are the best to diagnose and treat TMD conditions. Choosing the wrong doctor to treat your TMJ disorder might cause more harm than help. 

Is TMJ disorders treatment covered by medical or dental insurance?

That depends on your insurance policy. We recommend that you contact your insurance administrator to find out if your policy covers Temporomandibular joint disorders treatment cost.

What specialist sees TMJ patients in Los Angeles?

Most dentists claim that they are TMJ specialists. An Orofacial Pain Specialist is most qualified to diagnose and treat this widely variable and very common condition. However, patient who need joint surgery will be referred to the right specialist for treatment.  

Top-rated TMJ Specialist Los Angeles

Dr. Mohammad Khalifeh, DDS, MS, a board certified TMJ specialist, offers most effective none-surgical treatment for patients with Temporomandibular joint disorders. Above all, Dr. Khalifeh is the #1 TMJ specialists in Los Angeles helping patients with TMJ disorders for over 25 years. Dr. Khalifeh successfully treated thousands of patients with TMJ disorders in Los Angeles, Miracle Mile, Beverly Hills, Hollywood, Richmond Village and southern California. 

TMJ disorder treatment outcome depends on many factors. However, TMD cases caused by chronic diseases like arthritis may get better by lifestyle change. Dr. Khalifeh might recommend medications to reduce TMJ pain and discomfort. however, advanced treatment options are available for TMD patients at our office when needed.

Do you live in Los Angeles Area and  Looking for TMJ Specialist?

Look no more, contact us at the Museum Dental Center and we will take care of your pain ASAP. 

Our address: SAG-AFTRA Plaza, 5757 Wilshire Blvd., Suite #5, Los Angeles, CA 90036.

Tel: (323) 933-3855

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