Temporomandibular joints (TMJ) connect the jaw and skull bone. When these connective tissues are damaged, the result is pain and impeded movement. That means simple daily tasks like smiling, laughing, speaking, and chewing are suddenly painful. When this occurs, patients are said to be suffering from TMJ dysfunction. If you think you may need help for this oral health condition, please don’t hesitate to call us. The Longview Dental Center team offers pain relieving, health renewing treatments.
Diagnosis & Treatment
Before we can begin treatment for TMJ dysfunction, we need to ensure we’ve reach an accurate diagnosis. Our skilled dentist and team will carefully examine your jaw and facial structures during six month checkup screenings for signs of dysfunction. We may also be able to see problem areas on digital x-rays. Because the symptoms of TMJ dysfunction are so varied, the disorder can go undiagnosed for years. That’s why it is important for patients to let us know if they notice any of these common side effects including:
- Jaw pain, especially while moving the mouth though there may be throbbing pain when at rest
- Clicking or grinding sounds when opening and closing the mouth
- Impeded jaw movement or complete immobility (lock jaw)
- Earaches or ringing in the ears (some suffer hearing loss in extreme cases)
- Chronic headaches that can be mild or severe migraines
- Radiating neck, shoulder, and back pain
- Excessive dental wear caused by nighttime teeth grinding and clenching
Occlusal Equilibrium Adjustments
Often the jaw is under excess strain because it does not rest in the ideal position. This can happen because of an uneven bite, developmental issue, or teeth grinding or clenching habit (bruxism). Whatever the cause of the dysfunction, we offer a treatment that will relieve pain and restore your full jaw function. In some cases, this is as simple as doing daily jaw stretching exercises. We’ll walk you through these stretches in the office and provide you with at-home instructions. Some patients can even out the pressure across their bite with one or more restorative dentistry treatments. When a damaged or decayed tooth is not repaired, the teeth that surround it receive excess force as do the TMJ. By correcting this damage, the bite’s balance is restored relieving strain on the jaw joints. In more advanced cases, patients may need orthodontic intervention.
Occlusal splints are some of the most often used treatments for TMJ dysfunction. These devices are custom crafted to position the jaw in its ideal resting place during sleep. They prevent unconscious jaw movement, so there is no more strain on the joints. After wearing the oral appliance for several nights, the jaw will begin to more naturally position itself in the ideal location. This reduces pain and inflammation and improves jaw function over time.