TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorder is a painful condition of the jaw, and our board-certified oral and maxillofacial surgeon, Dr. Bartlomiej Nierzwicki, would like to help you find the answers and relief. In addition, Dr. Nierzwicki offers helpful solutions for a healthier, more comfortable jaw joint. You may have been referred to Millennium Surgical by a dentist or primary care physician for symptoms like a “clicking” sound when you open your mouth or chew your food, pain and swelling that require daily medication, or you cannot make your chewing muscles move properly. At our office in Chicago, IL, our diagnostic team can help you figure out the best course of action in treatment, regardless if you need to have surgery or not. Cases that require a surgical intervention are usually the most severe. Ease your anxiety about your painful TMJ symptoms, and give us a call today to set up your consultation appointment with Dr. Nierzwicki.

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TMJ  Symptoms

When we talk to patients who may have TMJ, we may ask the following questions during a consultation to determine a diagnosis:

  • Do you have sensitive, broken, or loose teeth?
  • Do you grind or clench your teeth so hard it causes soreness and pain?
  • Do you wake up with sore, stiff muscles around your jaws?
  • Do you have frequent headaches or neck pain?
  • When you are anxious or stressed out, does it make your teeth clenching worse?
  • Does your jaw click, pop, grate, catch, or lock when you open your mouth or chew?
  • Do you experience pain when you open your mouth, eat, or yawn?
  • Have you ever suffered an injury of the neck, head, or jaw?
  • Have you had problems with other joints in your body?
  • Do your teeth touch when you bite or meet differently from time to time?
  • Do you refrain from using your front teeth to bite or tear food?

Treatment Options

Once our oral and maxillofacial surgeon diagnoses your condition as a TMJ disorder, there will be a customized treatment plan made for your unique case. Your surgeon may recommend the use of a muscle relaxant, anti-anxiety medication, anti-inflammatory, or pain-relieving medication to stop muscle spasms, swelling of the joints, decrease stress, and stop the pain. It may also be recommended that the patient receive steroid injections into the joints for severe cases of chronic inflammation and pain. We advise all of our TMJ patients to:

  • Exercise the jaw daily
  • Practice stress management techniques
  • Do your best to not clench your teeth and jaw (especially when you are stressed)
  • If possible, eat a diet of soft foods (avoid chewy, sticky foods)
  • Apply ice and heat to relieve the pain and throbbing
  • Have good neck alignment and practice good posture
  • Rest your jaw as needed
  • Use a night guard to prevent grinding the teeth at night while you sleep
  • If your surgeon advises you to wear an anterior positioning appliance to move your jaw forward, wear it as recommended to relieve pressure and heal the jaw
  • Your surgeon may require you to wear an orthotic stabilization appliance, which will move your jaw into the proper position and protect the teeth from wear

Other Considerations

Our oral and maxillofacial surgeon will not consider surgery as a treatment for TMJ unless the jaw will not open, is displaced, severely degenerated, or if the patient is not responding to other noninvasive treatments. We will make recommendations to your primary dentist or orthodontist for a bite adjustment (equilibration), special orthodontic treatment, and/or restorative dental work. We will do our best to make sure that surgery (open joint repair/restructuring, or arthroscopy) is utilized as a last resort