Tempro-Mandibular Joint Dysfunction Syndrome (TMJ) is a common condition affecting a wide variety of people. TMJ is characterized by severe headaches, jaw pain of varying degrees, grinding teeth, and an intermittent ringing in the ears. The vast majority of TMJ sufferers are unaware that the root cause of these problems is something that Dr. Coates can effectively treat.
The symptoms of TMJ are debilitating and can greatly interfere with every day life. The comfort and general well being of the patient is at the heart of our Long Beach Dental practice, so pain relief is our first consideration. Dr. Coates is able to test, diagnose, and devise an immediate plan to treat the underlying causes of the TMJ disorder.
Reasons for treating TMJ
TMJ 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 and dizziness.
The most common cause of TMJ 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 will 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 TMJ is one of the prime underlying factors in eroded jawbones and loose teeth.
It is important for anyone experiencing the symptoms of TMJ 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 patients bite, take x-rays of both the teeth and TM joints, and review the patient’s history in order to make an accurate diagnosis and recommend necessary treatment.
Once a preliminary diagnosis is attained, there are several ways in which relief can be provided. A specially molded bite guard can be created to stop teeth grinding during the night. The most comprehensive approach involves a bite relationship analysis. You wear something similar to the bite guard for an extended period of time until the muscle and TM joint are stabile and you are pain free. This requires a commitment by the patient and is only successful with complete cooperation with Dr. Coates' instructions. Once we have a stabile TM joint, new molds records are taken of the ideal stabile jaw position and a final diagnosis is made and treatment options are then determined and discussed with our patients. This may include orthodontics, oral surgery, precision bite adjustments, localized or full mouth rejuventaion. Finally, our patient makes a decision based on what they feel meets their long term goals for health.
Dr. Coates can also provide advice on relaxation techniques which will lessen the effects of stress. Additional options can include muscle relaxants and localized injections to decrease muscle activity.
If you are experiencing any symptoms of TMJ, we encourage you to contact our office today to schedule an appointment.