What is TMJ?

Temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ) or TMD, is a condition that involves the joint that attaches the jawbone to the skull. The condition produces various unpleasant symptoms that may be treated by a highly-trained dentist using state-of-the-art technology.

TMD may be due to different problems, which could include the erosion of the disc in the joint or it’s shifting out of proper alignment. In some cases, the cartilage that cushions the joint may have been damaged due to trauma, injury or arthritis. It is impossible to determine the exact cause of the disease, but it is highly treatable. Sometimes the position of the teeth and increased stress or bruxism (grinding of the teeth) can also cause TMJ pain and dysfunction.

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TMJ Causes

It is impossible to determine the exact cause of the disease, but it is highly treatable. Sometimes the position of the teeth and increased stress or bruxism (grinding of the teeth) can also cause TMJ pain and dysfunction.

Common Symptoms of TMD

Jaw pain is the most common symptom for someone with TMJ dysfunction. Other symptoms include:

  • Jaw tenderness
  • Difficulty in chewing
  • Popping, clicking or a sharp pain when chewing
  • Dull aching of the face or around the ears
  • Jaw locking

Moreover, people with TMJ disorder often clench or grind their teeth at night, possibly leading to improper jaw alignment. This condition can even lead to the development of chronic headaches due to the involuntary behavior.

TMD Diagnosis and Treatment

Here at Deer Park Dental, TMD is diagnosed with the use of advanced digital x-rays in conjunction with a comprehensive oral examination. Dr. Scott or Dr. Von Tersch will assess your teeth to check for any signs of teeth grinding or any damage due to TMD.

Once analyzed, they will initially proceed in correcting the misalignment of the jaw. The first TMD visit consists of impressions of the patients teeth along with a face-bow transfer and wax bite, which allows the models of the teeth to be mounted on an instrument that simulates the jaw teeth positions. This is a 30 to 40 minute appointment. The second and final visit consists of fitting the bite guard, adjusting it and relining it to assure that the bite is aligned to facilitate the condyle position is as close to the center of the joint as possible.

By utilizing this orthopedic device called a superior repositioning appliance (SRA) or splint, the back teeth are able to comfortably touch the bite plate evenly and the joint is kept in the center of the socket as much as the joint will allow. This does not only reduce pain associated with TMD, but also helps protect the joint and teeth from further damage. The SRA or splint is made on mounted models and it is relined in the mouth in order to obtain a passive seating, allowing our dentists to get to an ideal fit as much as possible.

Is TMJ Treatment Painful?

TMD/ TMJ can be mildly uncomfortable to debilitating and not allowing a patient to eat, sleep or work.  Also joint that is very inflamed may have limited opening. The treatment of TMD, when a mouthguard is indicated, is quick and relatively painless.

TMJ Recovery Process

Typically most patients will start feeling better immediately. After the first month the jaw joint often feels back to normal. If the pain does not go away then a scan of the joint may be indicated or evaluate for other medical problems.

TMD Mouth Guard

A mouth guard is an appliance that is made to protect the teeth from grinding and eliminate wear on the teeth as well as protect the joint from further damage. It can also benefit for patients who are having pain in the joint.  By positioning the joint in the center of the socket by the mouth guard fabrication, the jaw can become more comfortable and protected.

Why Choose Deer Park Dental?

Some practitioners follow the “medical model” in treatment for TMD/TMJ.  This is where pain meds, anti-inflammatory medications, muscle relaxers and/or antidepressants are used.  These can be addicting and can mask other symptoms.  If the pain is from the relationship of the teeth and the jaw joint position, we prefer to make the mouth guard with minimal medications to see if positioning the joint with the mouth guard is successful, establishing a dental component of the problem.  Moist heat, ice and occasionally anti-inflammatory medications can be initially helpful. The unique way the mouth guard is fabricated allows a more accurate positioning of the joint.

Laura’s Testimonial – TMJ Patient

“I’ve been a nighttime tooth grinder since childhood, which has done a number on my teeth and jaw. I’ve crushed many fillings and spent countless years suffering from the discomfort of TMJ. No mouth guard helped until Dr. Janice Scott outfitted me for a custom TMJ mouth guard that prevents me from grinding and takes all pressure off my jaw. I no longer wake up with headaches, I get fewer new cavities because my fillings hold longer, and the mouth guard is surprisingly comfortable because it was hand-sculpted to fit my teeth perfectly. I even use my custom TMJ mouth guard during the day when I’m under stress and catch myself clenching, because it takes the pressure off and makes my jaw and neck muscles relax. If you suffer from TMJ, forget boil-at-home sports mouth guards, cap-style dental mouth guards that fit over your two front teeth and strain your jaw further, and regular dental mouth guards that only protect your teeth and not your jaw. Get a custom TMJ mouth guard that stops you from grinding altogether from Deer Park Dental, and protect your teeth and your jaws!”

– Laura

Schedule a Consultation

If you are experiencing tmj symptoms, call Deer Park Dental in Stockton at 209-478-3036  to schedule a consultation.