Why Should You See a TMJ Specialist?

Woman with jaw painSimilar in design to a sliding hinge, the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) links your jawbone to your skull. These joints are located on each side of your jaw.

If there is something affecting one joint, both joints, the supporting muscles, or other soft tissues, the resulting discomfort is referred to as a temporomandibular joint disorder.

Oftentimes, TMJ-related pain is a temporary inconvenience. Other times, however, it’s best to be diagnosed and treated by a TMJ specialist.

Here are four reasons to consider scheduling a visit to see a specialist at AZ TMJ.

1. Your TMJ Symptoms Are Rapidly Progressing

With many cases of TMJ discomfort, symptoms never progress beyond the point of being an occasional distraction or annoyance. But other times, the condition can progress rapidly and dramatically affect your jaw joints or related muscles and ligaments.

Early intervention from a TMJ specialist increases the odds of successfully responding well to treatment options that may include:

  • Therapeutic Botox injections into jaw muscles associated with chewing
  • Corticosteroid injections directly into the affected joint
  • Insertion of small needles to irrigate fluid in the affected area (arthrocentesis)
  • Minimally invasive arthroscopic TMJ surgery

2. Traditional Treatment Options Aren’t Effective

The first attempt at treating a TMJ disorder usually involves physical therapy. Options of this nature might include applications of moist heat and ice, ultrasound, and special exercises to strengthen and stretch jaw muscles. Early treatment efforts may also involve wearing soft or firm device that’s placed over your teeth.

However, if your symptoms aren’t sufficiently managed with such efforts, it’s time to see what a TMJ specialist has to say.

Sometimes, it helps to get an accurate diagnosis so a customized treatment plan can be recommended, especially if you’ve already tried any of the following remedies without success:

  • Diet changes (e.g., eating softer foods to allow the jaw to temporarily rest)
  • Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Relaxation and guided imagery to help manage pain
  • Relaxing facial muscles
  • Periodic yawning to prevent the jaw from locking open
  • Side sleeping

3. You May Be a Good Candidate for Newer TMJ Treatments

By visiting a TMJ specialist, you’ll have access to some of the latest treatments. A specialist can let you know if you are a good candidate for treatments that may include PRP therapy and stem cell treatments.

Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy involves the use of a patient’s own concentrated blood with elevated levels of platelets. The mixture is then injected into the affected area of the jaw to facilitate tissue healing.

With TMJ stem cell therapy, undefined cells capable of adapting to surrounding cells to promote tissue healing are injected. It’s a treatment that usually targets often overlooked ligaments responsible for stabilizing the jaw (the sphenomandibular, stylomandibular, and capsular ligaments). The technique typically uses cells from the patient’s own body to increase the chance of acceptance.

4. It Could Be Something Other Than a TMJ Disorder

In rare instances, jaw pain may be caused by something other than TMJ, such as cardiovascular problems or abnormal benign or cancerous growths.

Since a TMJ specialist is trained to accurately diagnosis this condition, they’ll be able to determine if there is another structural problem or underlying health issue contributing to your symptoms.

Contact AZ TMJ Today

AZ TMJ is a leader is the diagnosis of TMJ disorders and advanced treatments that may be more effective for you than initial home remedies or traditional conservative care options. Call Dr. Farrell at (480) 945-3629 today.