TMJ disorders (TMD)

TMJ disorders can be caused by many factors and can have a big impact on your quality of life. They can be caused by bite problems, injury, clenching and grinding, arthritis, or internal derangement. Symptoms include pain, headaches, dizziness, or a locked jaw and can persist for days to weeks to sometimes even years. Our dentists go beyond just bite guards and follow a treatment plan to address the root of your TMJ symptoms.

Symptoms include:

  • pain or tenderness in your face, TMJ area, around your ears, neck or shoulders. You may find it exacerbated by talking, chewing, or opening your mouth wide.
  • your jaw may become locked in the open position
  • clicking or popping in the jaw joint
  • trouble chewing or the teeth not fitting together properly
  • swelling on the side of your face
  • toothaches, headaches, or neck aches
  • ringing in the ears or dizziness

If you or your dentist suspect you might have a TMD, your dentist will use several techniques to diagnose your problem.

Steps

During your diagnosis or consultation, we will talk to you about your symptoms and history and inspect your jaw joints, tissues, and how your teeth bite together. If your symptoms are due to TMJ, we will then pursue a treatment plan that is custom made for you. We believe when treating TMJ a conservative and minimally invasive approach is best.

Many cases will involve making a bite guard for you to help alleviate stress on your joints, muscles, and tendons. The bite guard fits over your upper or lower teeth to lessen the effects of clenching or grinding, reduce the load on your jaw joint, and even out the way your teeth bite together. Most patients only need the biteguard and may use it all the time or intermittently when symptoms arise.

If further treatment is needed, there are three main approaches that we can use separately or together:

  • In mild cases, small portions of some teeth can be removed to help align your bite and keep the joint in sync. this is called occlusal equilibration.
  • In moderate cases, fillings or crowns can be used to move teeth into positions that are better for your bite to be in sync with your jaw joint. We may also recommend replacing missing teeth to help reduce the shift of teeth and distribute your biting force more equally.
  • In severe cases, teeth may need to be moved with the use of braces or Invisalign to align them.

Eating and chewing

Eating soft food such as yogurt, mashed potatoes, soup, scrambled eggs, fish, and cooked fruits and veggies will help to reduce your symptoms. Extreme jaw movements and harder to chew foods such as chips, raw veggies and most candy may trigger symptoms. Caffeine may also exacerbate problems because it can cause us to clench and grind our teeth.

Maintenance

Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen (Advil) can help by reducing pain or swelling. Your dentist may also prescribe stronger medications for you if needed. You may apply moist heat to the side of your face and temple area for 10 minutes 2-3 times a day or more frequently if needed. See additional care information.

Physical therapy may also help in some cases. We may recommend a consultation with a specialist for internal joint derangements, trauma, or arthritis.

Causes of TMJ problems (TMD)

temporomandiublar joint (TMJ)
Your jaw bone attaches to your temporal bone via your TMJ
An example bit guard for TMJ issues.
 An example of a biteguard built to relieve TMD symptoms
Anatomical illustration of the TMJ and its involved joints
An anatomical illustration of the tissues and bone involved in the operation of your jaw.

We are dedicated to giving each of our patients the beautiful, healthy smile they deserve!

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