Tempro-Mandibular Joint Dysfunction Syndrome (TMJD/TMJ) is a common condition affecting a wide variety of people. TMJD is characterized by severe headaches, jaw pain of varying degrees, grinding teeth, and an intermittent ringing in the ears. The vast majority of TMJD sufferers are unaware that the root cause of these problems is something that a dentist can effectively treat.
The symptoms of TMJD are debilitating and can greatly interfere with every day life. The comfort and general well being of the patient is at the heart of the dental practice, so pain relief is the first consideration of the dentist. The dentist is able to test, diagnose, and devise an immediate plan to treat the underlying causes of the TMJD disorder.
Reasons for treating TMJ
TMJD sufferers report that their symptoms generally worsen during periods of prolonged or unexpected stress, and that intense outbreaks of the condition can lead to neck pain, dizziness, tinnitus (ringing of the ears), facial pain, cluster headaches, and migraines.
The most common cause of TMJD is the misalignment of the teeth, often called “bad bite.” It is possible for the dentist to realign or adjust the teeth without the need for painful or expensive surgeries. The realignment/adjustment can stop the pounding headaches, the jaw pain, and the dizziness.
The grinding teeth symptom is particularly common and usually occurs at night. The grinding will eventually erode the structure of the teeth and lead to much more severe dental problems in the future. Untreated TMJD is one of the prime underlying factors in eroded jawbones and loose teeth.
It is important for anyone experiencing the symptoms of TMJD to visit the dentist for an exact diagnosis.
What does treating TMJ involve?
TMJ could be a result of several different problems. Bad bite is the most common, but an injury resulting from a blow to the meniscus cartilage is also a possibility. Initially, Dr. Coates will thoroughly examine the jaw area, the patient's bite, take x-rays, and review the patient’s history in order to make an accurate diagnosis and recommend necessary treatment.
Once a firm diagnosis is attained, there are several ways in which relief can be provided.
- A specially molded bite guard, often called a nightguard, can be created to stop teeth grinding during the night.
- A bite relationship analysis & MAGO Splint Therapy (maxillary anterior guided orthotic) is worn for 2-6 months to get the TM joints to their physiologically stable position. After stabilization occurs, a diagnosis is made as to the cause of the problems and treatment options are reviewed with the patient. Some cases may involve only minor reshaping of teeth and bonding, while more complex cases may require full-mouth rejuvenation. This is the most comprehensive approach to diagnosis and treatment that Dr. Coates can perform.
- We can also provide advice on relaxation techniques which will lessen the effects of stress.
- There is a new FDA approved device placed in the ears called TMJ NextGen that helps train you not to clench and grind.
- BOTOX® therapy to relax the muscles.
- Change the shape of the teeth and get rid of the bad bite completely, often called a precision bite adjustment. This is especially useful because it alleviates TMJD symptoms and may improve the aesthetic appearance of the teeth as well. Realignment involves adjusting the relationship between how the upper teeth come together with the lower teeth. This may require new restorations and/or adjusting the natural teeth as well. It is not a painful procedure, and it is one Dr. Coates has performed with great success numerous times.
- Dr. Coates may recommend orthodontics (braces) which can also be very useful in positioning the bite properly and helping with the TMJD symptoms. This is often followed up with the precision bite adjustment to fine-tune the bite.
As with any procedure, Dr. Coates will be happy to answer questions and discuss symptoms, options, and treatments.
If you are experiencing any symptoms of TMJD, we encourage you to contact our office today to schedule an appointment.