Temporomandibular Joint Disorders (TMD/TMJ) can be difficult to diagnose and treat because the problem often crosses over into several different specialties in medicine and dentistry. People who suffer from this disorder have typically searched many websites and may have been seen by many healthcare professionals–all of whom may have a piece to the puzzle.
The TM joints are located in front of the ears and allow the jaw to open and close, move side to side, and forward and backward. Unlike other joints of the human body, these joints move together. When one or both aren’t functioning properly, it is referred to as “dysfunction” . This can involve displacement of the thin cartilage(disc) inside the joint.
Symptoms of TMJ disorder
- Frequent Headaches
- Facial Pain
- Teeth that do not fit properly
- Limited opening or locking of the jaw
- Joint clicking and pain
- Pain or pressure behind eyes
- Ringing or stuffiness in ears
- Difficulty chewing food
- Neck pain
- Shoulder stiffness
Yes, it is hard to believe symptoms that include eyes, ears, mouth, jaw and neck are associated with TMJ disorder. It is imperative that you be screened by a dentist trained and experienced in these disorders. Treatment is usually indicated when you suffer with any of these symptoms.
Causes of TMJ Disorders
There are many factors that can cause Temporomandibular Disorders (TMD). These factors include, but are not limited to:
- Trauma to the head and neck as in motor vehicle accidents, sports injuries or falls
- Bruxism or grinding of the teeth
- Clenching of the teeth brought on by stress
- Malocclusion (bad bite) from crooked teeth or missing teeth
- Poor nutrition
- Improper posture
- Genetic muscle or bone problems
When any of these factors are present, they actually “overload” the normal functions of the jaw joint, muscles and teeth that can result in pain and dysfunction. When the jaw joints, muscles and teeth are not in the proper balance and alignment, pain can often times be the result. That’s where we can help! Having a comfortable bite is absolutely critical in the successful management of TMJ disorders.
Diagnosis of TMJ Disorders
Along with a health history, we perform a thorough comprehensive exam , appropriate x-rays, muscle testing, range of motion and load tests, and other diagnostics on an as needed basis. We will discuss the onset, duration and intensity of pain and may address stress and nutritional issues. This all helps us with an accurate diagnosis.
Treatment of TMJ Disorders
Our treatment philosophy is conservative and non-surgical for TMD, head, neck and facial pain.
Our office provides the latest in techniques for diagnosis and treatment of TMJ disorders. If you suffer with headaches, jaw fatigue, facial pain , difficulty closing the teeth together, or neck and shoulder pain, it may be TMJ disorder. Pain complaints may involve the chewing muscles, the jaw joints, the jaw itself or even the teeth. Once a diagnosis is determined, we may use various treatments to treat the TMJ.
A custom fitted orthotic–also known as a splint–is the most suggested treatment. The splint helps eliminate muscle spasm and pain which occurs with bite imbalance. It also stabilizes the TM joints. The purpose of the splint is to balance the bite so the teeth, muscles, and joints all work in harmony–without strain or pain.
Once the proper jaw position is established, patients may need a bite equilibration, orthodontics or reconstruction to maintain the proper positioning of the teeth. We can also offer referrals to other health professionals if needed.
Contact our team today at 704-334-5306 to schedule a consultation with Dr. Norman or to further discuss TMD therapy.