Treating TMJ/TMD with dental therapies
Do you have recurring headaches or unexplained pain in your face, jaw, or teeth? Do you have pain in your neck or back, tingling in your fingers, or ringing in your ears? Have you been to your doctor (or multiple doctors) many times, but can’t seem to get relief? If so, then you may be one of the millions of Americans suffering from TMJD, temporomandibular joint disorder. The good news is that we can help.
With our expertise, we can help identify and resolve many issues you may not even realize are related to your teeth and bite! In addition, many ‘dental mysteries’ can be solved by looking at the bigger picture and taking into consideration the entire system (the muscles, the teeth, AND the joint). The team at Downtown Dental is highly educated and skilled at taking a comprehensive physiologic approach to your health and wellness. Our job is to educate and help you to navigate through the many options available so that you can make the best choices for your specific needs.
Symptoms of TMJ
One reason why TMJ can be so hard to identify and treat is that it has so many symptoms. Symptoms of TMJ include:
- Head and neck discomfort
- ‘Sinus’ headaches and tension headaches
- Neck and shoulder pain
- Facial pain
- Ringing or stuffiness of the ears
- Numbness in your fingers or arms
- Restricted jaw movement
- Clicking, popping, or grating sound in the jaw joints
- Wear, chipping, or cracking of teeth or restorations
- Loose teeth in the absence of gum disease or tooth sensitivity and pain in the absence of decay
- ‘Mystery’ tooth pain or discomfort
- Recurring jaw pain or soreness
What is a Physiological Dentist? Is my dentist a TMJ Specialist?
A physiological dentist is a dentist trained in the relationship of the muscles, nerves, and other soft tissues with the bones and teeth in your mouth and jaw. Based on more than 30 years of clinical experience and research, neuromuscular dentistry has developed scientific, reliable, and predictable treatments for TMJ. This means that we can give you long-term relief from your symptoms, including head and neck pain.
We can reduce or alleviate your TMJ pain by determining your jaw’s ideal rest position. By correcting a misaligned bite, we can reduce wear or damage to teeth.
How TMJ/TMD Treatment Works
We begin treatment with TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation) a kind of electrical massage. TENS relaxes the muscles of the head and neck and stimulates the release of endorphins (natural painkillers).
Once we have relaxed your muscles, we can determine your jaw’s ideal rest position. Computerized jaw tracking is used to identify any irregularities in your jaw’s movement. EMG (Electromyography) is used to measure the electrical activity in the muscles, so we know when your muscles are at maximum rest. ESG (Electrosonography) is used to evaluate joint noises so we know whether there are any destructive or degenerative processes at work in your TMJ.
These sophisticated instruments have years of successful use in many different medical specialties. In physiological dentistry, we use them to evaluate jaw dysfunction, which can contribute to symptoms in your entire body, although the most common symptom is headaches. We combine these measurements with specialized x-rays to determine the best treatment for your TMJ. Sometimes, regular TENS massage and lifestyle changes are adequate treatments. Other times, an orthopedic mouthpiece may be recommended. Sometimes dental restorations may be used in a full mouth reconstruction to improve jaw function. We can then use another advanced scan technology, to measure the force of your bite at every point. This confirms that your new bite is balanced and healthy, with no tooth subjected to more force than it can handle. Rarely, surgery may be required to treat TMJ.
TMJ is a chronic condition that may take years to develop and likely worsens with age. However, our scientific diagnosis and treatments may allow us to help you get relief, even if other doctors have not been able to help