San Francisco TMJ Disorder

TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorder refers to a set of problems related to the joints of the jaw. Some of the most noticeable symptoms that may occur when patients move the jaw include:

  • Discomfort
  • A “Clicking” sound
  • Locking up in an open or closed position

Typically, TMJ disorder occurs when the joints and the chewing muscles don’t work together correctly. SF Oral Surgery helps San Francisco TMJ disorder patients to rehabilitate and heal from the condition quickly by using the least invasive treatment methods. If a person notices any of these symptoms, contact SF Oral Surgery for an initial consultation to determine whether the specific symptoms are due to TMJ disorder and to come up with a treatment plan to provide relief.

Common Causes of TMJ Disorder

A common misdiagnosis for TMJ disorder is tension headaches. While both of these conditions cause pain in the same place (the area where the temporal bone connects to the jaw), treatment is very different. The causes of TMJ disorder are well documented and include:

  • Clenching or grinding the teeth repetitively.
  • Keeping the jaw muscles tight, which can stress the TM joint.
  • Having an injury or a disease that damages the jaw joint.
  • Developing arthritis.

Each of these causes have a related set of symptoms San Francisco patients may not yet have recognized. If anything feels different or if patients experience any type of discomfort in the jaw area, never hesitate to reach out to our doctors for a consultation.

TMJ Disorder Self-exam

The first step when seeking treatment for TMJ is knowing what common problems it causes. SF Oral Surgery has compiled a list of questions to help patients identify symptoms to seek the right treatment for their condition. San Francisco patients who answer yes to one or more of the following questions may have TMJ disorder:

  • Does the patient wake up with sore, stiff muscles around their jaw?
  • Does the patient have frequent headaches or neck aches?
  • Does the pain get worse when clenching the teeth?
  • Does stress make the jaw clenching and pain worse?
  • Does the jaw click, pop, grate, catch or lock when the mouth is opened?
  • Has the patient ever injured their neck, head or jaw?
  • Has the patient had problems (such as arthritis) with other joints?
  • Are the teeth sensitive, loose, broken or worn?
  • Do the teeth meet differently from time to time?

Patients who answered yes to any of these questions should speak with their general physician or oral surgeon for a conclusive diagnosis. The earlier this visit happens, the higher likelihood there will be a quicker recovery period so patients can get back to living their healthy life.

What to Expect as TMJ Disorder Patient

SF Oral Surgery invites patients in San Francisco to our practice for an initial consultation if they experience any of the previously mentioned signs or symptoms. Our doctors will conduct an examination and talk with each patient about their symptoms to determine whether they have TMJ disorder. Based on what our doctors find, our practice offers various treatment options to improve the jaw’s function, such as:

  • Pain reliever, anti-inflammatory or a muscle relaxant to alleviate muscle spasms and joint discomfort.
  • Steroid injection into the joints for more direct treatment to reduce pain and inflammation.
  • Daily at-home care that can significantly improve discomfort.

While many patients choose to see their primary care physician when they experience certain symptoms, there are some benefits to seeing a surgeon specializing in TMJ disorder or other jaw problems. Proper diagnosis of TMJ disorder is important to start the recovery process and to get back feeling normal quickly. A specialist is generally better equipped to pinpoint the issue and can set a clear path for the patient to get back to living their regular lifestyle. Most San Francisco patients will not require more invasive procedures than the ones mentioned above and find relief immediately after beginning treatment.

TMJ Disorder Prevention and Care Tips

Preventing TMJ disorder seems simple, but the reason it may be difficult is that the symptoms are caused by unconscious actions. For example, patients sometimes may not even realize they clench or grind their teeth at night until they visit their dentist. Stress is another reason why TMJ disorder can develop since the jaw muscles tend to be tighter during stressful situations. For patients in San Francisco to maintain their comfort and progress with treatment, there are several steps they can take to improve their symptoms. Some of the tips our doctors typically recommend include:

  • Being conscious of stressful situations and avoiding them.
  • Relaxing and relieving stress through meditation or other practices.
  • Wearing a mouthguard or other protective device at night or throughout the day as directed by the dentist.
  • Resting the jaw.
  • Exercising the jaw.
  • Applying ice and heat as needed.
  • Practicing good posture.
  • Not chewing gum.
  • Avoiding the consumption of hard or overly chewy foods.
  • Keeping the teeth apart when not swallowing or eating.
  • Using the appropriate safety equipment for the mouth and jaw when playing sports or participating in any activity where jaw injuries or fractures could occur.

TMJ disorder develops over time but being conscious of these actions will go a long way in preventing it from developing. And if patients already have TMJ disorder, then taking these actions can improve the symptoms tremendously until they eventually disappear.

Surgery for TMJ Disorder in San Francisco

SF Oral Surgery patients only require surgery if they have undergone an unsuccessful appliance treatment or if the jaw can’t open, is dislocated and not reducible, or has severe degeneration.

If we recommend a surgical procedure, treatments include:

  • Bite adjustment (equilibration).
  • Orthodontics with or without jaw reconstruction.
  • Restorative dental work.

Fortunately, many San Francisco patients find relief from their symptoms without surgery. When patients visit our office for an initial consultation, our doctors will perform a thorough evaluation to help determine the appropriate course of action. Our goal is to treat the problem with the least invasive treatment while always keeping the best interest of the patient in mind.

Visit Our Comfortable and Friendly Facility Today

From the moment patients in San Francisco call us for an initial consultation to the moment they leave, we strive to provide the most comfortable and relaxing environment. We understand what every patient is going through and it’s our goal to help them get back to living their normal lifestyle as quickly and safely as possible.

Our doctors will take the time to answer every question a patient has so they fully understand what their body is going through and how we can make it better in the least invasive manner possible.

Learn if you have TMJ disorder and what you can do about it. Call SF Oral Surgery’s San Francisco office at (415) 776-6710.