Your Comprehensive Guide to TMJ Treatment

TMJ disorder, also known as TMD, can significantly impact your daily life, causing discomfort and affecting your ability to eat, speak, and even sleep. At Smyrna Dental & Headache Center in Smyrna, Georgia, we understand the challenges posed by TMJ disorder and offer comprehensive treatment options to alleviate your symptoms and restore comfort. This FAQ article aims to provide clarity on TMJ disorder and its management, empowering you to take control of your health and well-being.

FAQs about TMJ Treatment:

1. What is TMJ disorder (TMD)? 

TMJ disorder, or temporomandibular joint disorder, is a condition involving pain or dysfunction in the temporomandibular joint, which connects your jawbone to your skull. It can cause various symptoms, including jaw pain, popping or clicking noises when opening or closing the mouth, and difficulty chewing or opening the mouth fully.

2. What are the common symptoms of TMJ disorder?

Common symptoms of TMJ disorder include jaw pain or tenderness, facial pain, earaches, headaches, clicking or popping sounds when moving the jaw, difficulty chewing, and jaw stiffness.

3. What causes TMJ disorder? 

TMJ disorder can have multiple causes, including jaw injury or trauma, misalignment of the jaw or teeth, teeth grinding or clenching (bruxism), arthritis in the temporomandibular joint, stress, poor posture, and very commonly obstructive sleep apnea.

4. What are the treatment options for TMJ disorder?

Treatment options for TMJ disorder vary depending on the severity of symptoms and underlying causes. They may include lifestyle modifications, such as avoiding hard or chewy foods and practicing stress-reduction techniques, wearing an occlusal orthotic to protect and rehabilitate the joint, physical therapy exercises to strengthen jaw muscles, medications for pain relief or muscle relaxation, and, in severe cases, surgical interventions.

5. What lifestyle changes can help alleviate TMD symptoms? 

Several lifestyle changes can help alleviate TMD symptoms, including practicing good posture, avoiding excessive jaw movements such as chewing gum or biting nails, reducing stress through relaxation techniques such as meditation or yoga, and applying moist heat or cold packs to the jaw area to relieve pain and inflammation.

6. How can stress affect TMD symptoms? 

Stress can exacerbate TMD symptoms by causing muscle tension and jaw clenching. Individuals experiencing high levels of stress may unconsciously clench their jaw or grind their teeth, leading to increased pain and discomfort in the temporomandibular joint.

7. Can TMJ disorder cause other health problems? 

In some cases, TMJ disorder may contribute to other health problems such as tension headaches, neck pain, and earaches. Chronic TMJ pain can also affect the overall quality of life, leading to difficulty eating, speaking, and sleeping.

8. What should I do if I suspect I have TMJ disorder? 

If you suspect you have TMJ disorder, it’s essential to seek evaluation and treatment from a qualified professional. Schedule a consultation at Smyrna Dental & Headache Center to discuss your symptoms and explore appropriate treatment options tailored to your needs.

Do you suffer from neck, back, and shoulder pain? Mouth breathing may be the cause. Learn about the link.

Airway & TMJ Video

Airway and TMJ

The normal way to breathe is through your nose as we grow and develop certain things such as pollen cow milk and other variables can cause an allergic reaction causing the lymphoid tissues known as tonsils and adenoids to become swollen. As the tonsils and adenoids become swollen they develop into an obstruction for nasal breathing and slowly mouth breathing begins to be the primary intake of air into the body.

In order to breathe through the mouth, the lower jaw comes down; the tongue comes off the palate and settles on the lower teeth. Nasal breathing is the correct way for air to enter the body and during nasal breathing the tongue rests at the palate and the pressure on the cheeks is balanced by the tongue. During mouth breathing the pressure from the cheeks is unopposed by the tongue. The oral system becomes unbalanced and results in the deformation of the upper jaw creating a v-shaped arch as opposed to a correct u-shaped arch. This also produces an incorrect swallowing function. Upon swallowing the tongue rests on the lateral teeth hindering normal tooth eruption causing a lateral tongue thrust. A constantly open mouth causes the incisors to over-erupt.

The result is a deformation of the lower arch known as the bicuspid drop-off. The result of this deformation of the upper and lower arches is the presence of premature contacts upon closing which shifts the lower jaw distally off of the physiological trajectory. The narrowing of the upper arch pushes the lower jaw back. This forces the TMJ condyle to shed distally while the TMJ disc shifts forward. Upon opening the disc can shift onto the condyle to restore the TMJ’s correct position. Reduction of the disc and then shift back to an incorrect forward position upon close. This is what causes a reciprocal click. In addition, the muscles could be in a state of hypertonus or spasm which can result in tension headaches.

An incorrect position of the lower jaw can result in Para functional activity of the muscles, such as clenching and grinding. Over time grinding can result in severely worn down teeth as a result the teeth become even shorter the lower jaw shifts distally even further and the vertical of the wide decreases. In time, joint degeneration occurs. The joint becomes deformed and the ligaments of the joint become damaged. As a result, the TMJ disc can get trapped in front of the condyle. While the click may go away limited mouth opening will occur.

A distally shifted jaw and tongue positions result in even further restriction of the airway in order to open up the airway the neck moves forward and the head tilts backward. This stresses the spine and fatigues the neck muscles which results in neck, back, and shoulder pain.

Don't let TMJ disorder disrupt your daily life and well-being. Take the first step towards relief by scheduling a consultation at Smyrna Dental & Headache Center. Our experienced team is dedicated to providing personalized care and effective treatment options to alleviate your TMJ symptoms. Contact us today at (678) 374-3764 to reclaim comfort and restore function to your jaw.