TMJ

TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorders are a family of problems related to your jaw joint. If you have had symptoms like pain or a “clicking” sound, you’ll be glad to know that these problems are more easily diagnosed and treated than they were in the past. These symptoms occur when the joints of the jaw and the chewing muscles do not work together correctly. TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint, which is the name for each joint (right and left) that connects your jaw to your skull. Since some types of TMJ problems can lead to more serious conditions, early detection and treatment are important.

No one treatment can resolve TMJ disorders completely and treatment takes time to become effective. Dr. Pickett can help you have a healthier, more comfortable jaw.

Trouble with your jaw?

TMJ disorders develop for many reasons. You might clench or grind your teeth, tightening your jaw muscles and stressing your TM joint. You may have a damaged jaw joint due to injury or disease. Injuries and arthritis can damage the joint directly or stretch or tear the muscle ligaments. As a result, the disk, which is made of cartilage and functions as the “cushion” of the jaw joint, can slip out of position. Whatever the cause, the results may include a misaligned bite, pain, clicking, or grating noise when you open your mouth, or trouble opening your mouth wide.

Do You Have a TMJ Disorder?

  • Are you aware of grinding or clenching your teeth?
  • Do you wake up with sore, stiff muscles around your jaws?
  • Do you have frequent headaches or neck aches?
  • Does the pain get worse when you clench your teeth?
  • Does stress make your clenching and pain worse?
  • Does your jaw click, pop, grate, catch, or lock when you open your mouth?
  • Is it difficult or painful to open your mouth, eat, or yawn?
  • Have you ever injured your neck, head, or jaws?
  • Have you had problems (such as arthritis) with other joints?
  • Do you have teeth that no longer touch when you bite?
  • Do your teeth meet differently from time to time?
  • Is it hard to use your front teeth to bite or tear food?
  • Are your teeth sensitive, loose, broken or worn?

The more times you answered “yes”, the more likely it is that you have a TMJ disorder. Understanding TMJ disorders will also help you understand how they are treated.

TMJ Treatment

There are various treatment options for TMJ that Dr. Pickett can utilize to improve the harmony and function of your jaw. Once an evaluation confirms a diagnosis of TMJ disorder, Dr. Pickett will determine the proper course of treatment. It is important to note that treatment always works best with a team approach of self-care combined with professional care.

The initial goals are to relieve the muscle spasms and joint pain. This is usually accomplished with a pain reliever, anti-inflammatory, or muscle relaxant. Steroids can be injected directly into the joints to reduce pain and inflammation. Self-care treatments can often be effective as well and include:

  • Resting your jaw
  • Keeping your teeth apart when you are not swallowing or eating
  • Eating soft foods
  • Applying ice and heat
  • Exercising your jaw
  • Practicing good posture

Stress management techniques such as biofeedback or physical therapy may also be recommended, as well as a temporary, clear plastic appliance known as a splint. A splint (or nightguard) fits over your top or bottom teeth and helps keep your teeth apart, thereby relaxing the muscles and reducing pain. There are different types of appliances used for different purposes. A nightguard helps you stop clenching or grinding your teeth and reduces muscle tension at night. It also helps to protect the cartilage and joint surfaces. An anterior positioning appliance moves your jaw forward, relieves pressure on parts of your jaw, and aids in disk repositioning. It may be worn 24 hours/day to help your jaw heal. An orthotic stabilization appliance is worn 24 hours/day, or just at night, to move your jaw into proper position. Appliances also help protect tooth wear.

What about bite correction or surgery?

If your TMJ disorder has caused problems with how your teeth fit together you may need treatment such as bite adjustment (equilibration), orthodontics with or without jaw reconstruction, or restorative dental work. Surgical options, such as arthroscopy and open joint repair restructuring, are sometimes needed, but are reserved for severe cases. Dr. Pickett does not consider TMJ surgery unless the jaw can’t open, is dislocated and non-reducible, has severe degeneration, or the patient has undergone appliance treatment unsuccessfully.

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Pickett Oral Surgery

5 out of 5 stars based on 5 TMJ reviews

Patient Review from Barbara B

Dr. Pickett is a top oral surgeon with excellent credentials. He is careful to explain how he would like to best proceed with a procedure while making sure that I understood all. I felt that I was involved in the process and decision-making. Excellent, painless. procedure! The assistants went about their preparations in a careful manner, and while answering my many questions. Lastly, the staff are always so pleasant and helpful, always with a smile. I couldn't be happier. Will always use Dr. Pickett and his team.

- Barbara B

5 out of 5 stars on

Patient Review from Brenda S

I had trauma to my face and was upset and scared enough on my own, but having to see a plastic surgeon on top of this made my stress level through the roof - BUT - from the beginning in the hospital and continuing still, they put me at ease and made everything a great experience. I highly recommend Dr. High and this group.

- Brenda S

5 out of 5 stars on

Patient Review from Kenny C

Dr. Pickett was absolutely amazing. I was having some issues with the wisdom teeth on my right side and everywhere else had a waiting list a mile long. Turns out that was a blessing in disguise because I couldn’t be happier after going to see Dr Pickett. Him and his staff were extremely professional and paid very close attention to my needs. I am in my second day of removing from having two wisdom teeth removed which only took him minutes to do. I have had a tooth extracted before and this procedure with Dr Pickett was nothing like the past experience. I am in no where near the amount of pain I was before and only wish I had known about this practice and Dr Pickett sooner. I will definitely be back to him to have anything done that I may need in the future.

- Kenny C

5 out of 5 stars on

Patient Review from Irene C

Dr high is by far the best....and very very much the best in East Tennessee.

- Irene C

5 out of 5 stars on

Patient Review from Theresa T

Dr Pickett was a really good doctor who I enjoyed. alot Me and my husband liked.his reply when asking questions about my recovery time

- Theresa T

5 out of 5 stars on