Disorders affecting the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) affect many individuals and can ultimately have a debilitating effect on one’s livelihood. Fortunately, there are effective treatment options available that can reduce headache, facial pain, jaw clicking, and the many other symptoms attributed to TMJ Disorder. Our experienced dentist, Brian Vence, DDS, has obtained extensive additional training in the treatment of TMJ Disorders. He can diagnose and treat TMJ Disorder with a “total health” approach, utilizing interdisciplinary techniques to address the root of the condition and provide long-term relief.
What Is TMJ Disorder?
TMJ Disorder, also referred to as TMD, is a condition which affects the temporomandibular joint between the upper and lower jaw. This joint connects the jaws, basically serving as a hinge, and helps individuals bite, chew, speak, and yawn. When the joint is impaired, inflamed, or imbalanced in some way, TMJ Disorder often results. This condition can cause mild to severe symptoms that affect a variety of body areas and, when left untreated, can lead to significantly worsening effects on one’s daily life.
What Causes TMD?
There are numerous causes that can contribute to the development of TMJ Disorder. Accurate diagnosis by a skilled dentist can often isolate the cause, and therefore be used to design the most ideal treatment plan to reduce the condition’s effects. TMD can result from:
- Imbalance or misalignment of the jaw
- Persistent clenching or grinding of the teeth (bruxism)
- Breakdown of cartilage in the joint
- Simple overuse of the joint
- Autoimmune diseases
- Scar tissue
- Problems with surrounding muscles
- Sleep Disorder Breathing
What Are the Symptoms of TMD?
One of the hallmarks of TMD is that it can cause a range of symptoms that may not seem connected to the source of the problem. Some of the more common effects of TMD include:
- Continuous facial pain
- Clicking/popping sound in the jaw
- Trouble speaking or chewing
- Trouble opening or closing the mouth all the way
- A ringing in the ears
- Shoulder, neck, or back pain
- Numbness in the arms or fingers
What Are the TMJ Disorder Treatment Options?
The best treatment for TMJ Disorder will ultimately depend on the initial diagnosis and each patient’s unique needs. Traditionally, options such as medication, bite and jaw therapy, oral appliance therapy, reconstructive dentistry, and oral surgery have been utilized as treatment options for TMD. Dr. Vence has found interdisciplinary orthodontic therapy to be successful for many patients who suffer from TMD. This type of treatment involves “force management” and protection of the TMJ and the natural dentition from additional pressures that may exacerbate symptoms. It can also correct structural irregularities that may be contributing to the condition.
During your initial consultation, our dentist will perform a comprehensive oral evaluation, talk with you about your symptoms, and take high-resolution images of your oral structures. If you are diagnosed with TMD, we will create a customized treatment plan designed to effectively treat the condition and reduce symptoms. At all stages of the treatment process, you will be a collaborative partner in your own care. This “Co-Discovery” process is an essential and unique part of our practice in which your input, questions, and communication are welcomed at all times. Our dental team is committed to providing care that will be most effective for your goals. This begins with a truly customized treatment program developed to provide the most ideal solution for your specific needs, which can lead to sustainable and long-term oral health.
For more information on TMJ Disorder and available treatment options, or to schedule a consultation, please contact Vence Dentistry today.