TMJ (Tempro-Mandibular Joint Dysfunction)
Tempro-Mandibular 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 are debilitating and can greatly interfere with every day life. The comfort and general well being of the patient is at the heart of the dental practice, so pain relief is the first consideration of the dentist. The dentist is able to test, diagnose, and devise an immediate plan to treat the underlying causes of the TMJ disorder.
It should be noted that there is no “quick fix” for TMJ issues. The treatment of such an important part of the chewing system requires a thorough diagnostic process to ensure that the current status is identified, and the end goal is delineated, in order to take the patient from a painful joint position to one that promotes overall joint health. Doing so also enables the patient to achieve a biologically correct bite so that the teeth are positioned to meet comfortably – thus stabilizing the compromised joint.
Reasons for treating TMJ
TMJ sufferers report that their symptoms generally worsen during periods of prolonged or unexpected stress, and that intense outbreaks of the condition can lead to neck pain and dizziness. This is due to the fact that the TM joint is one of the most nerve-concentrated areas in the human body.
The most common cause of TMJ is the misalignment of the teeth, often called “bad bite.” Dr. Ang has had extensive training in helping patients reclaim their ideal tooth alignment and TM joint position to help his patients achieve optimal oral health that can last a lifetime. Through correct diagnosis and treatment, a patient can gain relief from the many symptoms that come as a result of a poor TM joint position, such as the pounding headaches, the jaw pain, and the dizziness.
The grinding teeth symptom is particularly common and usually occurs at night. (Patients should be aware that antidepressants increase grinding). 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 or fractured teeth. It is not uncommon for patients with misalignment to have a seemingly health tooth suddenly fail – this is often due to poor joint & tooth alignment – causing the healthy tooth to receive undue stress and pressure, which in turn compromises it’s health.
It is important for anyone experiencing the symptoms of TMJ to visit the dentist for an exact diagnosis to enable them to avoid future complications. If you suspect that you are grinding, call us today for an evaluation appointment.
What does treating TMJ involve?
TMJ could be a result of several different problems. Bad bite is the most common, but an injury resulting from a blow to the meniscus cartilage is also a possibility. Initially, the dentist will thoroughly examine the jaw area, the patients bite (including taking impressions), take 3-D x-rays, and review the patient’s history in order to make an accurate diagnosis and recommend necessary treatment. The current bite is also simulated by mounting cast replicas of the patient’s teeth on an articulator (jaw joint simulator) to be able to tangibly view and measure the existing discrepancies. This allows both patient and Doctor to view and discuss the current realities of the bite as well as the end goal; including the process of how a stabilized joint will be obtained.
In order to stabilize the jaw joint, the patient must also wear a splint (very similar to a thin night guard). This allows the jaw joint to settle into its ideal and comfortable position. Once stability is achieved, the doctor is then able to finalize the information gathering process and create the final treatment plan to bring the patient’s bite to stability. Because every patient presents a different level of oral health, the treatment diagnosis demands customized care. This is what we deliver to each and every patient at Dental Arts of Bedford – we endeavor to empower our patients with the knowledge they need to make the best decisions with regards to their personal oral health goals. We invite you to call us today to schedule an appointment and experience the difference for yourself!