Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction Syndrome (TMJ) is a common condition affecting a wide variety of people. TMJ is characterized by severe headaches, jaw pain of varying degrees, grinding teeth, and an intermittent ringing in the ears. The vast majority of TMJ sufferers are unaware that the root cause of these problems is something that a dentist can effectively treat.
The symptoms of TMJ can be debilitating and can greatly interfere with everyday life. The comfort and general wellbeing of our patient is at the heart of Mountaineer Dental and Sleep Center, so pain relief is the first consideration, usually with the assistance of anti-inflammatory medications. The dentist is able to test, diagnose, and devise a plan to help treat the underlying causes of the TMJ disorder.
Reasons for treating TMJ
TMJ sufferers report that their symptoms generally worsen during periods of prolonged or unexpected stress, and that can lead to neck pain and dizziness.
The most common cause of TMJ is the misalignment of the teeth, often called “bad bite.” It is possible for the dentist to realign or adjust the teeth without the need for painful or expensive surgeries. The realignment/adjustment can stop the pounding headaches, the jaw pain, and the dizziness.
The grinding teeth symptom is particularly common and usually occurs at night. The grinding will eventually erode the structure of the teeth and lead to much more severe dental problems in the future. Untreated TMJ is one of the prime underlying factors in eroded jawbones and loose teeth.
It is important for anyone experiencing the symptoms of TMJ to visit the dentist for an exact diagnosis.
What does treating TMJ involve?
TMJ could be a result of several different problems. Traumatic occlusion (“bad bite”) is the most common, but an injury resulting from a blow to the meniscus cartilage is also a possibility. Initially, we will thoroughly examine the jaw area, your bite, take X-rays, and review your history in order to make an accurate diagnosis and recommend necessary treatment.
There are several ways in which relief can be provided. A specially molded bite guard can be created to stop teeth grinding during the night, after a sleep screening has been performed to rule out possible sleep apnea. A bite relationship analysis may be recommended. Our staff can also provide advice on relaxation techniques which will lessen the effects of stress.
The best option is to change the shape of the teeth and eliminate the bad bite, through a process call equilibration. This is especially useful because it alleviates TMJ symptoms and may improve the aesthetic appearance of the teeth as well. Equilibration involves adjusting the relationship between how the upper teeth come together with the lower teeth. This may require new restorations and/or adjusting the natural teeth as well. It is not a painful procedure, and it is one that our staff have performed with great success numerous times. As with any procedure, our dentists and staff will be happy to answer questions and discuss symptoms, options, and treatments.
If you are experiencing any symptoms of TMJ, we encourage you to contact our office today to schedule an appointment.