Temporomandibular Joint Disorder
TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorders are a family of problems related to your complex jaw joint. If you have had symptoms like pain or a “clicking” sound, you’ll be glad to know that these problems are more easily diagnosed and treated than they were in the past. These symptoms occur when the joints of the jaw and the chewing muscles (muscles of mastication) do not work together correctly. TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint, which is the name for each joint (right and left) that connects your jaw to your skull. Since some types of TMJ problems can lead to more serious conditions, early detection and treatment are important.
There are many people who suffer from head and neck pain, such as tight and painful neck muscles, stuffy ears, pain behind eyes, headaches, and back pain. Many seek medical treatment without getting relief from these symptoms. The symptoms mentioned are all associated with dysfunction of the jaw muscles that control the TMJ. The good news is that these syptoms can be relieved with proper treatment. Usually our patients are pain free after one treatment. In fact, I tell them, ” If you are not pain free the next day, call me “
Trouble With Your Jaw?
TMJ disorders develop for many reasons. You might clench or grind your teeth, tightening your jaw muscles and stressing your TM joint. You may have a damaged jaw joint due to injury or disease. Injuries and arthritis can damage the joint directly or stretch or tear the muscle ligaments. As a result, the disk, which is made of cartilage and functions as the “cushion” of the jaw joint, can slip out of position. Whatever the cause, the results may include a misaligned bite, pain, clicking, or grating noise when you open your mouth or trouble opening your mouth wide.
Do You Have a TMJ Disorder?
- Are you aware of grinding or clenching your teeth?
- Do you wake up with sore, stiff muscles around your jaws?
- Do you have frequent headaches or neck aches?
- Does the pain get worse when you clench your teeth?
- Does stress make your clenching and pain worse?
- Does your jaw click, pop, grate, catch, or lock when you open your mouth?
- Is it difficult or painful to open your mouth, eat, or yawn?
- Have you ever injured your neck, head, or jaws?
- Have you had problems (such as arthritis) with other joints?
- Do you have teeth that no longer touch when you bite?
- Do your teeth meet differently from time to time?
- Is it hard to use your front teeth to bite or tear food?
- Are your teeth sensitive, loose, broken or worn?
The more times you answered “yes”, the more likely it is that you have a TMJ disorder. Understanding TMJ disorders will also help you understand how they are treated.
There are various treatment options that Dr Dacus can utilize to improve the harmony and function of your jaw. Once an evaluation confirms a diagnosis of TMJ disorder, Dr Dacus will determine the proper course of treatment. It is important to note that treatment always works best with a team approach of self-care joined with professional care.
Stress management techniques such as physical therapy may also be recommended, as well as a temporary, clear plastic appliance known as a splint. A splint (or nightguard) fits over your top or bottom teeth and helps keep your teeth apart, thereby relaxing the muscles and reducing pain. There are different types of appliances used for different purposes. A nightguard helps you stop clenching or grinding your teeth and reduces muscle tension at night and helps to protect the cartilage and joint surfaces. Appliances also help to protect from tooth wear.
What About Bite Correction or Surgery?
If your TMJ disorder has caused problems with how your teeth fit together, you may need treatment such as bite adjustment (equilibration), orthodontics, or restorative dental work. Surgical options such as arthroscopy and open joint repair restructuring are rarely needed, and are reserved for severe cases.Dr Dacus does not consider TMJ surgery unless the jaw can’t open, is dislocated and nonreducible, has severe degeneration
“I wanted to share my experience with my TMJ treatment. Dr Dacus did the treatment at the end of March, and I am absolutely amazed at the difference in my life that I have experienced. I used to have headaches pretty much every day for over 30 years, so that by evening, I was taking over the counter medication every day just so that I could function. About 2 or 3 times a month my headaches would get so bad, that I would have to take medication for 2 to 3 days and just lie down because I couldn’t see well and I couldn’t handle loud noises. It was impossible to make plans for anything because I never knew how I was going to feel. There were times I would wake up with a headache that would last all day, if not longer! Since the treatment, I may experience 1 or 2 headaches a month if even that, and all of them are gone with one time of taking medication! I haven’t had any migraines at all! I don’t have to plan my life around my headaches and have begun to enjoy time with my church family and spending time with my family and friends. It’s so exciting to be able to be able to be a part of life again and not worry about my headaches. I had gotten so used to them that I really didn’t realize how they ruled my life until I didn’t have them anymore. It has been very freeing and wonderful. I would recommend getting a TMJ treatment to anyone who experiences a lot of headaches like I did. It will change your life!”