TMJ Disorder Treatment in Milwaukee WI

TMJ Illustration Decorative Image

Community OMFS provides consultations and treatment for individuals with TMJ disorders.
Call 414-810-1707 to learn more and schedule an appointment.

For your masticatory (or chewing) system to function well, it requires a harmonious relationship between many facial structures including: your jaw joints (also referred to as the TMJ or Temporomandibular joint), your muscles of mastication which help move your jaw, surrounding ligaments, nerves and blood vessels, and the bony architecture of your skull and lower jaw. 

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is a sliding hinge joint that connects your mandible (jaw bone) to the mandibular fossa of the temporal bones of your skull, which are located in front of your ears. A piece of cartilage called the articular disc sits between the two bones and moves along with the lower jaw. It functions as a cushion and it helps with movement.slides to allow your jaw to move up, down, and side to side. 

Conditions that adversely affect any of these structures mentioned above including your TMJ, will impair your ability to chew, speak, and sleep. Many of these conditions are complex and are not fully understood yet, and others are a bit more simple to understand, prevent, and treat if needed.

What is “TMJ Disorder” or TMD?

The term Temporomandibular Joint Disorder/ TMJ disorder/ TMD is a broad term that refers to a number of jaw-related problems with multiple causes. It is not a homogenous term and includes different types of disorders. Traditionally, these disorders have been placed in one large “TMD” bucket. It is, however, very important to understand the exact type of TMD you are experiencing, to properly diagnose it, and to treat it accordingly.

The most common form of TMD presents as myofascial pain, where the muscles of the face, jaw, neck, and shoulders and their associated connective tissue lining are affected by inflammation. Less frequently, TMD is related to problems within the structure of the temporomandibular joint itself and present as functional concerns with the ability to open and close the mouth, painful clicks and pops in the jaw joints, and sometimes even an altered bite (occlusion). It is not uncommon for TMD to be associated with systemic diseases such as arthritis.

What causes TMJ Disorder?

The exact cause of TMJ disorder is challenging to pinpoint because TMD presents differently from patient to patient. The term encompasses a variety of different conditions (some isolated to the jaws and the face, and others reflective of systemic conditions). 

Causes of TMD range from use and overuse of muscles, joints, and ligaments. Posture issues can also lead to TMD. Structural concerns with the bite or occlusion (such as a deep bite, imbalanced bite, or bruxism or grinding of teeth) can lead to either myofascial pain, structures TMJ concerns, or both. 

Head, neck, or jaw injuries can lead to TMJ disorder. Bad falls, car accidents, and impacts cause temporomandibular joint injuries leading to TMD in the short or the long run. 

TMJ disorder symptoms can disrupt your daily activities and cause discomfort. Common symptoms are:

  • Pain or tenderness in your jaw, face, neck, or shoulders when you open or close your jaw
  • Ear aches and sometimes ringing in the ears (Tinnitus)
  • A 'clicking' or 'popping' sensation on one or both sides of your jaw at the temporomandibular joint
  • Difficulty opening your jaw wide
  • Inability to open or close your jaw
  • Headaches that vary in severity
  • Swelling on one or both sides of your face

TMJ Disorder Treatment at Community Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery

If left unchecked, TMJ disorder can adversely affect your quality of life, which is why this condition's treatment is vital to your health. There are different options depending on how the TMJ disorder manifests. At Community Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, we begin with a complete assessment to determine the source of your pain and the right treatment options for you.

Self-Managed Care Regimen: Usually, the best course of action is a simple self-managed care routine. Adequate rest, the use of heat or cold, and avoiding hard foods are among the more common ways a patient can manage their TMJ disorder at home. Dr. Ruba Khader and her team can advise patients on other ways to handle the symptoms of mild cases of TMJ disorder.

Medication: Because inflammation is one of the primary causes of TMJ disorder, doctors may prescribe anti-inflammatory medication to help alleviate the symptoms. Muscle relaxers can also play a role in treatment if you experience myofascial spasms and the inability to properly open or close your jaw due to the muscle locking up. Other pain medications may be considered only after a consultation with your primary care physician or a pain management specialist.

Physical Therapy: Physical therapy can help rehabilitate the muscles around the joint. These exercises are intended to alleviate pain, decrease inflammation, promote joint mobility, and improve your head posture for optimal jaw positioning.

Surgical Intervention: In rare cases, oral surgery may be considered for treating TMJ disorder. The primary methods of surgical intervention are arthroscopy and arthrocentesis, where the joint cavity is washed with a sterile saline solution to reduce inflammation. In situations where the physical condition of the patient's joints has deteriorated, the doctor may need to replace the joint with a custom-made prosthesis.

Botox Therapy for TMD

Botox therapy treats TMJ disorder by assisting with muscle relaxation. When injected into the muscles of mastication (or chewing muscles), Botox temporarily blocks the neurotransmitters that control those muscles. Once it takes full effect, it relieves the tension in the muscles around the joint. 

Patients who struggle with headaches related to their TMD, constant tension in the mouth, and pain in some of these muscle groups, benefit considerably from this treatment.

TMJ Disorders on Quality of Life

TMJ disorders can significantly impact an individual's quality of life, extending beyond mere discomfort to affect various aspects of daily functioning. Chronic pain in the jaw, face, and head can become debilitating, making simple tasks such as eating, speaking, and sleeping challenging. Additionally, limited jaw mobility and function may restrict dietary choices, potentially leading to nutritional deficiencies and associated health issues. Dental problems, including malocclusion and teeth grinding, often accompany TMJ disorders, increasing the risk of tooth damage and gum problems. Sleep disturbances, such as insomnia and daytime fatigue, are common due to TMJ-related pain and discomfort, further exacerbating the individual's overall well-being. Moreover, the emotional toll of living with chronic pain can lead to stress, anxiety, and depression, impacting mental health and social interactions. In severe cases, untreated TMJ disorders may cause irreversible damage to the temporomandibular joint, resulting in long-term functional impairment and decreased quality of life. It's crucial to recognize the systemic effects of TMJ disorders and seek timely treatment to mitigate these risks and improve overall health outcomes.

Lifestyle Modifications

Simple lifestyle changes can help manage TMJ disorders effectively:

Stress Management: Practice relaxation techniques like meditation or yoga.
Diet: Choose soft foods and avoid hard, chewy items.
Posture: Maintain good posture to reduce jaw strain.
Oral Habits: Avoid habits like gum chewing or teeth grinding.
Hydration: Stay hydrated to keep joints lubricated.
Sleep Environment: Ensure a comfortable sleep setup.
Regular Exercise: Engage in low-impact activities.
Relaxation Techniques: Use hot/cold therapy or gentle jaw exercises.

Risk Factors

Various factors increase the risk of TMJ disorders:

Genetics: Family history of TMJ issues.
Gender: Females are more susceptible.
Age: Prevalence increases with age.
Bruxism: Habitual teeth grinding.
Malocclusion: Dental misalignment.
Trauma: Previous head or jaw injuries.
Chronic Stress: Prolonged psychological stress.
Poor Posture: Incorrect neck and jaw posture.
Chewing Habits: Excessive gum chewing or biting.
Joint Mobility: Imbalances in joint range of motion.

Identifying and addressing these risk factors early can prevent or mitigate TMJ issues, enhancing overall jaw health and well-being.

TMJ Specialist in Milwaukee, WI

TMJ disorder symptoms have a variety of causes, so it's vital to receive a treatment plan that fits. Unfortunately, many patients who suffer from TMJ disorder have gone without adequate answers or generalized treatment that only resolves the symptoms without addressing the root cause of the problem. That's why Dr. Khader consults with her patients from the beginning, educating them, listening to them, and making them an active part of the treatment process.  

In addition, the Community Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery team looks at TMJ disorder in terms of its effect on the entire body, not just as an isolated condition. Therefore, our treatment plans are designed to improve the function of every anatomical system related to the temporomandibular joint for a complete approach to your health.

Please, get in touch with us if you would like to schedule a consultation.