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  • Should I worry about jaw joint problems?

    It is important to realise that the jaw joint problems, although a
    nuisance, are not sinister, and usually respond to relatively simple
    measures over time. Patients themselves can manage most of these
    treatments.

    Occasionally, jaw joint problems may return after several weeks.

    It is very rare for jaw joint problems to progress to arthritis.

  • What happens if these methods don’t improve things?

    Surgery is carried out in only a very small number of cases. This can
    involve manipulation or washing out of the joint space whilst you are asleep.

    In extreme cases, it may be necessary to open the joint and operate on the bones, cartilages and ligaments.

  • What are the treatments?

    Treatment varies, depending on whether you are suffering from
    myofacial pain dysfunction, internal derangement of the temporomandibular joint, or a combination of both.

    On the whole, treatment is aimed at trying to reduce the workload of the muscles, to align the disc of cartilage to return to a normal position in the joint.

    Some of these treatments are:

    • A soft diet that requires little chewing; this allows overworked
      muscles to rest.
    • Painkillers and anti-inflammatory medications (e.g. Nurofen) are good and can be either taken as tablets or applied as gel on the outside of the joint.
    • Heat, e.g. warm water in a hot water bottle (avoid boiling water) wrapped in a towel and applied to the side of the face.
    • Identifying and stopping any habits, such as chewing or grinding. Remember that these may be subconscious, i.e. you may not be aware of them.
    • Relaxation therapy and learning techniques to control tension and stress.
    • Jaw joint exercises. The exercises that are best for you, will have been discussed by the doctor seeing you. Please remember to carry them out as instructed.
    • Resting the joint as much as possible, e.g. avoiding yawning
      widely.
    • Providing a clear plastic splint that fits over the teeth and is worn mainly at night. This helps support the joint and the surrounding muscles.
    • Physiotherapy
    • Replacing missing teeth to balance the bite. If this is appropriate, it will have been discussed with you.
  • Why have I got jaw joint problems?

    The cartilage in the jaw joint is thought to slip forward because of
    overuse of the muscles surrounding the jaw. This overuse commonly produces tightening of the muscles and may occur as a result of chewing habits, such as grinding or clenching the teeth when under stress, or at night.

    Nail biting or holding things between the teeth can also cause jaw joint problems.

    Less commonly, missing back teeth, an uneven bite, or an injury to the jaw, can lead to the problem.

    Often no obvious cause is found.

  • What causes jaw joint problems?

    Pain is caused by the muscles in and around the jaw joint tightening up.

    Joint noises occur if the disc of cartilage moves out of its normal position between the bones of the jaw joint. Most commonly, the cartilage slips forward and a noise is made when it returns to its normal position in between the bones of the jaw joint. The noises sound louder to some patients than others because the joint is just in front of the ear.

    The ligaments and muscles surrounding the joint can, in turn, go into spasm, producing pain and limited mouth opening.

  • Background information

    The temporomandibular joint (jaw joint) is located in front of the ear, where the skull and lower jaw meet. The joint allows the lower jaw (mandible) to move and function.

    The joint itself is made up of two bones that are separated by a disc of cartilage. Ligaments and muscles surround the joint.

    Problems with the jaw joint are very common, but typically only last a few months before getting better. In some instances, only the muscles are affected (myofacial pain dysfunction), whereas in others the cartilage and ligaments may also be at fault (internal derangement of the temporomandibular joint).

    The most common symptoms are:

    • Joint noise, such as clicking, cracking, crunching, grating or
      popping
    • Pain, usually a dull ache in and around the ear. The pain may
      radiate, i.e. move forward along the cheekbone or downwards
      into the neck
    • Headache
    • Limited mouth opening

    Most jaw joint problems are made worse by chewing and are aggravated at times of stress.

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    JW

    The treatment is still ongoing but I am totally happy with the part Mr Lee and his team played in this. I am hoping that nothing like this will happen again but if it did, I would not hesitate to contact Mr Lee and his team again. Thank you
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    Sheffield United FC Club Doctor

    As one of the club doctors for Sheffield United, I have been fortunate to have Nick's support in managing two of our injured first-team players in the past year...
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    2019-08-17T13:54:53+00:00

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    Dr Lee and his team completely changed my life... it has improved my confidence in all aspects!
    Mr Lee treated my wife the week before I first saw him, with very positive results. On her recommendation I saw Mr Lee, the experience was exactly as I expected.

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    MO

    Mr Lee treated my wife the week before I first saw him, with very positive results. On her recommendation I saw Mr Lee, the experience was exactly as I expected.
    I was a little nervous but Mr Lee and his team put me at ease and I felt I was in very safe hands. The procedure was painless and I was able to go home soon afterwards

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    SH

    I was a little nervous but Mr Lee and his team put me at ease and I felt I was in very safe hands. The procedure was painless and I was able to go home soon afterwards
    I selected him because of his specialist experience and all of the care he gave was excellent

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    Nicholas Lee: Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeon, Sheffield UK