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According to research, a paucity of data exists concerning Temporomandibular Disorder (Wynn, Meiller, & Crossley, 2009).
When you first come in to our office you will be asked to fill out a brief questionnaire, to aid Dr. Doctor in assessing your condition. This form can be filled out online or in our Southlake or Arlington offices.
Dr. Doctor has received specialized training in assessing TMD from the Foundation of Advanced Continuing Education (FACE) with Dr. Jimmy Eubanks. If you have any questions, feel free to ask one of his knowledgeable staff members for help.
The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is a small joint located in front of the ear where the skull and lower jaw meet, which allows the lower jaw (mandible) to move and function. TMJ disorders have a variety of symptoms. Patients may complain of earaches, headaches and limited ability to open the mouth. They may also complain of clicking or grating sounds in the joint and feel pain when opening and closing the mouth.
Arthritis is one cause of TMJ symptoms. It can result from an injury or from grinding of the teeth at night. Another common cause involves displacement or dislocation of the disc that is located between the jaw bone and socket. A displaced disc may produce clicking or popping sounds, limit jaw movement, and cause pain during opening and closing of the mouth.
Sometimes the joint itself is the problem. Stress may trigger pain in the jaw muscle that is very similar to that caused by TMJ problems. Patients may have a combination of muscle and joint problems. Once the causes have been determined, there are several treatment options available, including pain relief through the application of mouth guards, bite therapy, and TMJ exercises.
TMJ treatment, referred to by some dentists as TMJ therapy, includes many options. The first step is to relieve the pain with the application of mouth guards, also known as dental splints. The next step in TMJ treatment is to apply bite therapy principles and tools to analyze the cause of the misalignment or stress that is causing the problem. If necessary, a routine of jaw exercises will be created to eliminate the clenching or grinding that is contributing to the stress on the lower jaw.
TMJ mouth guards are soft plastic protectors that slip over the upper and lower teeth to prevent grinding of the teeth. Guards make it more difficult to clench the jaws, an important first step in TMJ pain relief. There may present cases where wearing a mouth guard could interfere with other ongoing treatment. In all, Dr. Doctor will take a mold of your upper and lower teeth to custom-fit your TMJ mouth guards for maximum comfort and efficiency.
TMJ exercises are designed to relax the jaw and eliminate clenching, and also to help in the correction of alignment problems. After careful analysis, Dr. Doctor may provide you with an appropriate series of very simple exercises to be performed in front of a mirror. The use of a mirror in TMJ exercises helps you see the misalignment that is one of the factors of TMJ syndrome. Gradually, the exercises will teach you to control the jaw muscles and eliminate clenching.
A process known as TMJ therapy, or bite therapy, is used to help pinpoint the causes of TMJ syndrome and provide long-term pain relief. TMJ bite treatment begins with a careful, detailed analysis of your mouth and jaw to identify the causitive factors of your disorder. For some, the issue may be jaw clenching; this can usually be attributed to stress or simply a bad habit. For others, the teeth may not come together evenly, a condition known as malocclusion. This can cause uneven use of the jaw and result in muscle pain. Dr. Doctor has several tools at his disposal to measure bite pressure throughout the mouth and formulate a plan for dental work that will correct malocclusion and provide lasting TMJ pain relief.
Wynn, R. L., Meiller, T. F., & Crossley, H. L. (2009). Drug information handbook for dentistry: Including oral medicine for medically-compromised patients & specific oral conditions. (15th ed.). Hudson, Oh: Lexi-Comp.