According to most experts, including the National Institutes of Health, at least 10 million people in the U.S. suffer from disorders of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). Ranging in severity from annoying clicking sounds in the jaw to headaches and excruciating facial and jaw pain, TMJ can significantly reduce your quality of life. However, TMJ often produces symptoms of other conditions, so an accurate diagnosis is crucial. After all, without a proper diagnosis, it’s impossible to create an appropriate treatment plan. Read on to learn how to know if you have TMJ or something else.
TMJ: How to Get a Diagnosis
Problems in the temporomandibular joint produce symptoms such as headaches, jaw pain, difficulty chewing, difficulty opening the mouth fully, pain in the face, shoulders, and ear, ringing in the ear, and popping, clicking, or grinding noises in the jaw. Because many of these symptoms also result from conditions such as chronic sinus issues, cluster headaches, tension headaches, migraines, neuralgia (nerve pain), or pain from a previous viral infection or injury, you’ll need to see an expert who specializes in TMJ disorders for an accurate diagnosis.
Why is it Important to see a TMJ Specialist?
A reliable diagnosis of TMJ is essential for effective treatment. Because other conditions must be ruled out before designing a treatment plan, a diagnosis from a specialist is necessary. Dr. Chris Chui specializes in the treatment of TMJ disorders. In addition to his practice at San Francisco Dental Wellness, he is also the clinical director at the San Francisco VA medical center, where he has provided relief to countless veterans suffering from complex TMJ disorders.
How is TMJ Disorder Diagnosed?
A TMJ specialist may conduct a variety of tests to confirm that there is a problem in the jaw joint. These tests may include:
- Digital X-ray
- Cone Beam Computed Tomography (CBCT) scans
Your TMJ specialist will also look for signs of wear and tear on your teeth and evaluate your bite. In addition, they will have you open and close your mouth as they apply pressure to various areas on the face and jaw.
TMJ Treatments: Many Options Are Available
Thanks to advancing science, more options than ever are available to provide relief from TMJ Even better? In nearly all cases, TMJ can be treated non-surgically. Some of the treatment options available include:
- Lifestyle modifications (stress relief, soft food diet)
- At-home treatments (icing the inflamed area of the jaw)
- Anti-inflammatory medications (over-the-counter, or prescription medication)
- Splint therapy (night guard)
- Cold Laser Therapy (painless laser therapy)
- Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (electrical pulse therapy)
- Neuromuscular Orthotics (clear oral appliance, often worn on the lower jaw)
- Orthodontic treatment (Invisalign or braces)
Book an Appointment with a TMJ Specialist in San Francisco
At San Francisco Dental Wellness, Dr. Chris Chui specializes in the accurate diagnosis and treatment of TMJ disorders. In addition, as the clinical director at the San Francisco VA medical center, Dr. Chui provides effective treatment to veterans suffering from complex TMJ disorders. Call 415-781-1944, or book your appointment at San Francisco Dental Wellness.