Frequently, people are coming in to see me, wondering if they have a TMJ (Temporal Mandibular Joint) problem. Also known as TMD (Temporal Mandibular Dysfunction), TMJ symptoms will include, but are not limited to the following: facial pain, headaches, sore teeth, neck aches, shoulder pain, pain all around the neck, recession of the gums, earaches, ringing in the ears, popping or clicking jaw joints, crunching or grinding noises of jaw joints, soreness or scalloping of the tongue, ridges along the cheek, frequent root canals, broken and chipped teeth, short teeth, difficulty in smiling, more prominent facial wrinkles, loss of lip contour, etc.

This list is mind-boggling! One may have one or multiple symptoms, and not everyone suffers from the same ones. Symptoms commonly appear, seemingly without explanation and often under the wrong diagnoses, but people’s lives have been changed through simple TMJ treatment.

So how do we discover if you have TMJ or TMD? Well, we start with a thorough medical background check. How long have you had the symptoms? Do you have a history of trauma to the face, head, or neck? Have you tried any other forms of therapy or treatment? Your answers to these questions will greatly help me determine your problem and how to solve it.

Treatment of TMJ begins with a series of tests to diagnose the condition as accurately and thoroughly as possible. After that, patients are frequently given exercises to perform at home, a splint to aid in correcting the jaw’s alignment, or are requested to arrange meetings with a local physical therapist on a weekly or biweekly basis. Extreme cases may require surgery.

So if you think you are suffering from TMJ, request an examination. Ask your dentist about the things you can be doing to prevent TMJ. It is always better to speak up than to let the problem sit and grow worse!

Dr. Sperbeck, West Los Angeles

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