TMJ Disorders

ABOUT TMJ: The TM joint connects the lower jaw (mandible) to your skull. This is all held together by muscles and ligaments. When everything functions properly, the lower jaw is in the correct position. When there is a problem, headaches, neck, facial pain and even upper back pain can be the result. Many times TMJ symptoms masquerade as many other conditions - especially migraines. People search for answers from many health professionals.

In this drawing, the disc rides between the condyle and the glenoid fossa, indicating a "normal" TM joint. When the disc is displaced upon opening and closing, the disc goes either forward or backward as the jaw opens and closes. Even mild displacements can cause a clicking or popping sound in the jaw joint. For those people who clench or grind their teeth at night, the muscles get sore and tense which may cause pain and/or headaches or neck stiffness........ ARTHRITIS. It's important to call Dr. Davis BEFORE this occurs. Some people do not experience pain Unfortunately, a displaced disc and the pain will only get worse without proper treatment. When the disc does not cover the jaw bone, this can lead to osteoarthritis which can occur with or without pain.

Condyles Too Far Back: The Main Cause of TMD


Normal Joint


Dislocated Jaw Joint

 

SYMPTOM CHECKLIST: If you think you may be suffering from TMJ disorder, here is a simple checklist of symptoms. If you experience one or more of these conditions, call us as soon as possible for a screening:

  • Headaches
  • Facial pain
  • Limited opening of the jaw
  • Dizziness
  • Jaw clicking, popping or grating
  • Difficulty closing teeth together
  • Jaw goes to one side when opening
  • Ear pain, ringing or stuffiness
  • Neck pain
  • Blurred vision or pain behind the eyes

Yes, it is hard to believe that symptoms which include eyes, mouth, throat, ears, jaw, and neck are associated with TMJ disorder. There is a connection between TMJ and sleep disorders. The signal for this can be swallowing difficulty. It is imperative that you be screened by a dentist trained and experienced in these disorders. We have the special training and experience needed to properly diagnose and treat TMJ.

CAUSES: So many people are misdiagnosed with migraine headaches when, in fact, they are experiencing a TMJ headache. Headaches or pain in the neck, jaws and/or teeth can be caused by a bad bite. A whiplash injury, fall, intubation procedure (when the tube is placed down the throat for surgical procedures), or natural childbirth (when a birthing partner is pulling on your jaw from behind) can force the bite to be misaligned. An imperfect bite can, over time, result in tension in the muscles of the face and jaw which, when worsened, become painful.

We believe strongly in conservative, non-surgical treatment for TMJ Disorders. The most common treatment suggested is usually an oral appliance (also known as an orthotic or splint). Benefits of oral appliance treatment include:

  1. non-invasive treatment
  2. easily accepted by patients
  3. significant reduction or elimination of symptoms

The orthotic helps eliminate muscle spasm and pain which occur with bite imbalance and helps stabilize the jaw joint to allow for healing. The orthotic helps balance the bite so the teeth, muscles, and joints all work in harmony -- without strain or pain. First, the focus is on addressing the pain and second we work to help patients regain full function. You are also taught self-care techniques to improve your condition between treatments.

Our office and/or team provide any medication and other therapy necessary including:

  • iontophoresis - a medication that is applied to the skin without injection
  • BioTENS - relaxes tense muscles
  • Nutrition counseling
  • Spray and stretch - a muscle stretching technique to control painful trigger points
  • Hot/cold therapy
  • Cold laser

Unfortunately, if you ignore TMJ, it doesn't go away but only gets worse. We believe in offering more than a band-aid approach of putting patients on muscle relaxants or pain medications that only result in temporary relief. Our focus is to address the jaw joint factors related to the pain by restoring proper function and improving overall health.

Supplemental treatments and physical medicine therapies may be suggested. Pain complaints may involve the chewing muscles, the jaw joints, the jaws or even the teeth. We provide state-of-the-art computerized technology for diagnosis and treatment of TMJ disorders. Our special state-of-the-art computerized equipment that is utilized on an as-needed basis includes:

  • Joint Vibration Analysis
  • BioTENS
  • EMG

Modalities we incorporate in treatment when necessary include:

  • Custom orthotic (splint)
  • Laser therapy
  • MRI's & CT scans
  • Physical Therapy referral


Diagnostic Splints

If you would like to obtain more information about any of our equipment, feel free to call us.

Initial treatment is usually a custom-made, clear acrylic orthotic (commonly called a bite splint) or bite plate worn over the teeth followed by building crowns, orthodontics or a permanent appliance. Our practice philosophy is a conservative, non-surgical approach to treatment. Surgery is a last resort and only needed in about 3% of all cases. Early treatment is critical as well as good patient participation. With the proper treatment and self-participation, most patients can be treated successfully.