Are chronic headaches getting you down? Do you suffer from mysterious facial pain? These are just a couple of the possible signs of TMJ disorder. It is a common condition, affecting many otherwise healthy people. Yet, your doctor probably never mentioned it. He or she might even say (or imply) that your pain is imaginary. The fact is this condition has mystified medical professionals for years.
What is TMJ?
The TMJ (temporomandibular joint) is your jaw. It is a complex network of nerves, bones, muscles, and connective tissues. The actual joint is a “ball and socket” with a cushioning disc. It is capable of precision movement and tremendous force. A TMJ is similar to a sophisticated machine – if one component is worn or out of alignment, it can cause problems with the entire system. Any disorder of the TMJ has potential to cause jaw pain, headaches, hearing problems, and more.
Why do doctors have difficulty diagnosing TMJ disorder? There is no simple TMJ test, or “standard” set of symptoms. No two cases are exactly alike. Possible causes and symptoms vary widely.
- It is not a disease, so it won’t show in any blood test.
- Some of the possible causes are muscular, so there may be no indication on an x-ray.
- Jaw pain, clicking, or other symptoms may be present, but not always.
- It may be caused or aggravated by orthodontic problems, but it can occur in people with no issues.
Further complicating matters, symptoms are often diagnosed as independent conditions such as migraines. The doctor never looks for the cause. Unfortunately, migraine treatment doesn’t stop recurring headaches when an untreated TMJ disorder is still causing them.
Some doctors throw up their hands when they fail to diagnose or successfully treat chronic pain. Others start to blame the patient for being a “hypochondriac.” Fortunately, there is also a growing number of MDs becoming more educated about TMJ disorders. They typically refer their patients to specially trained dentists, such as Dr. Don Mungcal of Downtown Dental.
The role of dentists
General medical school is a comprehensive overview. Students study anatomy, diseases, and disorders of every system in the body. Out of necessity, study of the jaw is brief. As doctors of oral health, dentists have a distinct advantage. Their studies are focused on the mouth and surrounding structures. This includes extensive, in-depth study of the TMJ.
Dr. Mungcal also has extensive training and experience specific to TMJ disorders. He has brought relief to countless patients in Downtown LA, West Hollywood, and other communities in the area. He knows that your pain is real. He understands how chronic pain can hamper your lifestyle and enjoyment of life. You won’t be dismissed, criticized, or judged in our office. You will be helped, and treated with respect.
Don’t give up on finding relief. Call 213-863-9464 and schedule an appointment today.