TMJ, Facial Pain, and Nerve Injury

Oral and maxillofacial surgeons at UT Southwestern Medical Center are experts in the diagnosis and treatment of temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders, facial pain, and nerve injury.

TMJ disorders refer to a family of problems that are related to the complex jaw joint. These conditions can cause pain in the head or neck, tension or migraine-type headaches, a clicking or crackling sound (crepitus), and difficulty opening and closing the jaw properly.

The causes of TMJ tend to be arthritis or muscle spasm. However, TMJ disorders can also be the result of an injury, grinding or clenching the teeth, or, in rare cases, a tumor. In most cases, the pain is a result of injury to the trigeminal nerve, the major sensory nerve of the face and surrounding areas. The associated pain and discomfort can be severe enough to disrupt speech and chewing function.

Evaluation

An MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) or CT (computed tomography) scan can determine the causes of facial pain and help physicians make a complete diagnosis. Treatment for nerve injuries may include medication and surgery. 

Once a comprehensive evaluation confirms a TMJ disorder and its cause, our skilled physicians create a comprehensive treatment plan.

Treatments

No singular treatment can resolve TMJ disorders completely, and treatment takes time to be effective. There are a variety of treatment regimens available to improve the harmony and function of the jaw, including splint therapy, braces, occlusal adjustments, and physical therapy. For some cases, surgical treatment may also be necessary.

Patients with facial pain can also be treated by our ear, nose, and throat and pain management services.