The TMJ Trap: 3 Common Myths About Jaw Pain

tmj-jaw-pain-astoria-nyWhen it comes to your health, many conditions are relatively straightforward in their presentation of symptoms; there is no question of where you should go to seek treatment. Conjunctivitis? See your ophthalmologist. Broken bone? Head to the emergency room. Toothache? To your dentist, of course! Unfortunately, not all medical woes are so transparent. Dr. Jeffrey Leibowitz addresses the most common myths about treating temporomandibular joint disorders and popping jaws in Astoria, NY.

Myth: Symptoms of TMJ Disorders Only Affect the Jaw

Reality: TMJ symptoms can also affect your head, neck, and back.

TMJ disorders are notoriously difficult to diagnose, a fact that Dr. Leibowitz attributes to the array of possible symptom, not all of which are localized in the jaw and mouth area. For example, a patient who has the disorder may experience symptoms similar to those produced by migraines, sinus infections, and even ear infections. Another patient may present with symptoms that manifest as shoulder, neck, or back pain. As a result, many patients seek treatment from their general physician or specialist only to receive an incorrect diagnosis.

Myth: TMJ Disorders Only Affect People Who Grind Their Teeth

Reality: Several factors can cause TMJ disorders.

It’s true that habitual teeth grinding, or bruxism, subjects your jaw to unnatural pressure and undue tension, stressing the joints. However, TMJ disorders can stem from one or more of the following:

  • Moderate to severely crooked teeth
  • Overbite or underbite
  • Missing teeth
  • Injuries to the jaw
  • Structural problems affecting the jawbone

To determine the most likely cause of your jaw pain, Dr. Leibowitz will examine your teeth and jaw, measure your bite, and take x-rays, if necessary. Upon identifying the problem, he will make an appropriate recommendation and map out your treatment plan. This leads to our next myth.

Myth: Surgery Is the Only Available Treatment Option for TMJs

Reality: The majority of patients do not require surgical intervention to treat TMJ disorder

Most TMJ patients benefit from orthodontic treatment, oral splints, or a combination of the two. When recommending a course of treatment, Dr. Leibowitz will consider the underlying cause and severity of the problem. If your teeth have sustained serious damage as a result of your condition, restorative dentistry may be necessary. For example, a porcelain crown restores the structure and function of a tooth that has been worn down by grinding and misalignment. If a TMJ disorder has contributed to tooth loss, the patient benefits from implant restorations, dentures, or a dental bridge. Surgery is recommended only in cases where the jawbone is asymmetrical or otherwise deformed, or if you have sustained severe trauma to the area.

Have you experienced symptoms of TMJ disorders? To learn more about treatment options for TMJ disorders in Astoria, NY, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Jeffrey Leibowitz, contact us at 718-728-8320. We welcome patients living in and around Queens, Astoria, upstate New York, NYC, and New Jersey.