THE TMJ (OR "temporomandibular joint") are small joints in front of our ears that attach the lower jaw to the skull. if our teeth do not come together properly, the muscles around these joints can become inflammed. in turn, this inflammation can lead to headaches, jaw pain, neck and shoulder pain, and ringing in the ears.
- Facial pain
- Jaw pain
- Sore, chipped, broken, or worn teeth
- Clicking or popping in the jaw
- Limited jaw movement
- Chronic pain in the jaw, teeth, face, head, neck, shoulders, or back,
- "Ringing" in the ears
- Tooth Grinding
In grinding and intermittent tapping of the teeth, this contact involves movements of the lower jaw and unpleasant sounds which can often awaken housemates. Clenching (or clamping), on the other hand, involves inaudible, sustained, forceful tooth contact unaccompanied by lower jaw movements.
Both clenching and grinding can have adverse effects on the teeth, and especially on restorations (crowns, bridges, inlays, and onlays). To protect your teeth against fracture, an occlusal device, or "nightguard" can be made.
What Causes TMJ Pain?
In most cases, TMJ disorders stem from a condition called malocclusion, which means having a bad bite by way of genetic predisposition, dental trauma, or poorly constructed dental work. The term, " malocclusion" means that your upper and lower teeth do not close together in the correct way so as to not cause adverse forces on the musculature and ligaments that hold our lower jaw to our skull. When the teeth are misaligned, they cannot provide the support the muscles in the face need for chewing and swallowing. These muscles are then forced into a strained position, resulting in pain throughout the face, head, arms, shoulders, and back. Although a person may have beautiful teeth or had orthodontics to line the teeth up for aesthetic reasons, the muscles and joints may not be positioned in a physiologically neutral and natural position.
How Can TMJ Be Treated?
Dr. Cordoves and Dr. Gulizio are trained in neuromuscular dentistry and understand the complex signs and symptoms associated with TMJ/MPD. They will first measure the most relaxed position of your jaw to determine the goal for normal jaw positioning. The bite is then realigned and your teeth may need to be restored to return the jaw and joints to their optimal position. Once the bite is realigned and the jaw is in place, pain that resulted from the imbalance disappears.
Neuromuscular dentistry is the art and science of finding a person's relaxed jaw position (their correct bite), and then devising treatments to make it permanent, thus eliminating painful symptoms such as headaches, neck-aches, shoulder pain and jaw pain. We use muscle relaxation techniques and orthotic devices to diagnose and treat your symptoms and have a success rate exceeding 90% in eliminating the chronic pain and discomfort felt by TMJ sufferers.
TMJ treatment may also include:
- Physical therapy
- Surgical remedies
- Cosmetic dentistry
- Oral appliances
- Medication (as a last resort)
- TENS electrical stimulation
Occlusal Guards and Orthotic Devices
Occlusal guards (also called "nightguards") are made of thermoplastic resin and are meticulously customized to fit on top of your upper teeth. Impressions must be made and jaw records taken to ensure a precise fit.
A WORD OF CAUTION! Over-the-counter appliances are not recommended, as they do not take into consideration the mechanics of your jaw joint. These appliances do not properly fit and can dislodge at night while sleeping, causing a potential choking hazard. In most cases, over-the-counter appliances do more harm than good!