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What is TMJ/TMD?

TMJ refers to the temporomandibular joint and muscles that move the lower jaw. Any problems that prevent you from properly using your TMJ is referred to as TMD or temporomandibular disorders. Nearly 40 million Americans suffer from some form of TMD. TMD can be a debilitating disorder that entails wide-spread pain and dysfunction in your ability to properly chew, speak, and use your jaw.

Who Can Be Affected by TMJ Disorders?

Unfortunately, anyone may experience issues with their TMJ. However, the severity of the disorder varies due to factors, such as age, environment, and sex. Women between the ages of 19-40 are most affected by TMD. Recent studies have shown that 70 to 75% of all those suffering from TMD are females under the age of 40.

Signs and Symptoms of TMD

Before we can treat your TMD, we must first identify the signs and symptoms. While signs and symptoms may vary, the most common ones include:
Clenching or teeth grinding at night (bruxism)
Pain or stiffness in the jaw
Clicking or popping sounds when you use your jaw
Limited mobility of the jaw
Lock jaw
Ringing in the ears
Pain or pressure behind the eyes
Difficulty swallowing
Soreness of the throat
Numbness or tingling of the arms and hands
Worn, chipped, or cracked teeth
Changes in your bite (malocclusions)
Vertigo or loss of balance
Facial, shoulder, neck, or back pain
Sensitivity issues with your teeth
Difficulty chewing or eating
Problems with posture
Sleep apnea or excessive snoring

Signs & Symptoms of TMJ/TMD

Causes of TMD

The exact cause of TMD varies from patient to patient, making it somewhat of a mystery. However, there are several factors that have been scientifically linked to TMD, including structural, emotional, and biochemical imbalances.

A structural imbalance is another way of referring to a bad bite, or malocclusion. When your upper and lower teeth do not close together properly, it puts strains on the muscles in the face, jaw, and neck. A structural imbalance can also be the result of a missing tooth or poorly-fit filling or crown.

Emotional imbalances that cause TMD include stress, anxiety, frustration, anger, fatigue, depression, and sadness. These emotional imbalances often involve excessive bruxism, or teeth grinding. It may also lead to poor oral health habits like biting your nails or chewing on pen caps. Other habits like poor posture, eating chewy foods, yawning with your mouth wide open, and even chewing gum may also aggravate your TMJ.

Biochemical imbalances are the result of certain foods, vitamins, and minerals. Tension in the jaw can be the result of a hormonal response to drinks like coffee, tea, alcohol, and other caffeinated products.

What Happens if TMD Is Left Untreated?

TMJ disorders progress slowly and often go unnoticed at first. Our body has the amazing ability to learn, accommodate, compensate, and tolerate certain conditions such as TMD. For this reason, many patients walk around with signs and symptoms of TMD without realizing it. No one has taken the time to educate or explain to them what is happening with their body. At Beyond Dental and Implant Center we take the time. If TMD is left untreated, symptoms may worsen. Our goal is to correct your TMJ before your condition leads to severe pain or discomfort.

A woman receiving TMJ disorder treatment at Beyond Dental and Implant Center

Advanced Treatment Options for TMD

We offer advanced treatment options of TMD that other dental offices simply don't. Our neuromuscular approach to TMJ addresses the disharmony with your jaw joint, bite, muscles, and skeletal system. During an initial consultation, Dr. Cory Nguyen will perform a comprehensive examination to determine whether or not you are suffering from TMD. Once we determine the source of your TMJ pain, we can customize the best course of treatment to provide immediate and long-term relief.

Immediate relief involves a combination of treatment methods, some of which include:

SPG blocks. A Sphenopalatine Ganglion Block is an injection of a numbing agent to provide pain relief for head and facial pain conditions like TMD. SPG blocks can relieve some symptoms caused by TMD.
TENS therapy. TENS, or Transcutaneous Electrical Neural Stimulation, causes your muscles to relax and contract with low-frequency electrical stimulation. TENS therapy should put your TMJ in its proper anatomical position.
Trigger Point Injections. Trigger points develop when the muscles are in constant or continuous stain. A trigger point injection, using lidocaine or mepivacaine, provide temporary numbness that only lasts for a few hours. Therapeutic pain relief can last months.
Other immediate relief tactics, including muscle massage, pain medication, muscle relaxant drug prescriptions, stress management, the application of cold and heat packs, and physical therapy.

Treatment for long-term relief of complex cases of TMD is often broken up into two phases.

During the first phase of treatment, we may suggest a TMJ orthotic. An orthotic appliance fits over your lower teeth, and slowly adjusts your bite toward a more stable position. We may also suggest a visit with your general physician to rule out other medical conditions. Self-care during TMJ treatment, such as resting your jaw, keeping your teeth apart when not in use, engaging in breathing and relaxation exercises, and avoiding hard or sticky foods, can also relieve symptoms. Once we see signs of symptom relief, we move forward with phase two of treatment.

Phase two of long-term treatment may involve neuromuscular orthodontics. Neuromuscular orthodontics is used to keep your teeth in the correct position established by your orthotic. Another component of phase two includes coronoplasty/equilibrium, which is the selective grinding and reshaping of your teeth to correct the bite. We may also suggest permanent orthotics and full or single arch reconstruction using crowns or onlays that provide structural support. For extreme cases of TMD, orthognathic jaw surgery may be necessary.

See what our TMJ Patients had to say!

The first step to a healthy, beautiful smile is to schedule an appointment. Call us today at (972) 591-7520
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