TMJ Therapy An Overview
Temporomandibular Joint Disorder, more often referred to as TMJ, is a condition which causes chronic or acute inflammation of the temporomandibular joint. This joint connects the mandible to the skull, and unbalanced muscles often cause much pain and discomfort. The inflammation can result in significant impairment and pain. Examples of issues caused by TMJ are migraines, tooth wear and grinding as well as limitations to chewing. The instances of pain in both jaws and face can be almost unbearable.
Very few medical professionals have experience with this complex disorder. Plano, Texas dentist Dr. Jacob Grapevine has special training and experience working with patients suffering from Temporomandibular Joint Disorder, commonly known as TMJ. Dr. Grapevine completed postgraduate training to be able to diagnose and treat TMJ dysfunction.
What is Causing My Jaw Pain?
When your teeth do not fit together correctly and/or your jaw joints – (TMJ joints) – do not work properly, pain, pressure, and limitations to chewing can occur. Some issues that can occur are:
- Migraine headaches
- Frequent headaches
- Unexplained facial, neck, shoulder or jaw pain
- Popping and clicking of the TMJ joints
Also, tooth wear, teeth grinding, and chronic earaches can be caused by an incorrect bite or TMJ problems.
One out of every 10 Americans suffers from chronic headaches, and they spend over half a billion dollars every year for over-the-counter medications to relieve their pain. They never imagine that their headaches may be caused by TMJ, and that their pain is the result of a bad bite.
Based on your evaluation with Dr. Grapevine, we may recommend one or several treatment options to restore balance to the TMJ joints and occlusal system. TMJ Treatment in Frisco TX may include the use of a night guard to prevent teeth grinding during sleep. Dr. Grapevine may also recommend orthodontic treatment to straighten the teeth and create a harmonious bite relationship.
Treatment varies between the fields of both neuropathy and dentistry. While analgesic pain relief is often prescribed for those suffering with this disorder, often times the pain is more neurologic in cause and nature. As a result, pain relievers often do not provide an adequate effect. Another approach to pain management involves the use of tricyclic antidepressants such Amitriptyline or Nortriptyline to provide pain modification. This approach proves to be more effective for those not searching for longer term treatment.
For many patients, the use of a custom mouthguard to stop teeth grinding can provide symptom relief and prevent further damage to the teeth and gums. Dr. Grapevine will evaluate all aspects of your occlusal system (this includes teeth, gums, and jaw joints) to identify the underlying cause of your bite problem and recommend appropriate treatment options.
Performing a thorough examination of the thermomandibular joints is recommended before commencing with further treatment in order to to analyze the patient’s bite and joint. A less invasive treatment type might be bio-feedback. Using a headband for this type of therapy allows treatment during sleep while para-functional jaw habits are modified. Other treatments that involve an investment of time for results include:
- Occlusal Adjustment or Tooth Grinding – not usually recommended due to irreversible effects
- Mandibular Repositioning Splints
- Reconstructive Surgery
- Hypnotherapy – Used for pain management
Some treatments involve the elimination of para-functional habits through examining patient histories, which reveal much about symptoms and their causes. Jaw stretching and relaxation exercises, suggested by health care providers, can be done at home.
Surgery is sometimes indicated for TMJ, but usually only as a last resort. With more treatments coming to the fore that are less invasive, the use of MRIs or CAT scans is not as prevalent as it was in past years. TMJ has become a very treatable condition that no longer involves chronic pain in most patients.