Temporomandibular joint disorder, commonly referred to as TMJ or TMD, is an often misunderstood condition that can affect many aspects of your life. It can be responsible for an array of symptoms, many of which may not seem directly related with jaw misalignment.
TMJ symptoms can be distracting and quite painful. By choosing the right treatment for you, our dentists can alleviate this pain. We begin by identifying the source of your symptoms, whether related to your bite or a habit of teeth grinding. Then, we determine the most effective treatment.
If you experience unexplained jaw pain, neck pain, migraine-like headaches or other TMJ-related symptoms, please contact The Smile Centre today to schedule an initial consultation. If you live in the Sarasota area of Florida, contact our Palm Aire location online or at 941-351-4468. If you live in or around Florida, please contact us online. Our three convenient locations serve the Sarasota, Bradenton area of Florida.
What Is TMJ?
TMJ is a condition caused by jaw misalignment and produces a variety of painful symptoms. These symptoms are the result of pressure on the facial nerves, most often the trigeminal nerve. This nerve is responsible for transmitting sensation to the jaw, eyes and sinuses; it is also affects the chewing muscles. Pressure on this nerve can also cause lockjaw.
Symptoms of TMJ/TMD
TMJ is linked to many painful symptoms, not all of which are localized in the jaw. These symptoms can include:
- Generalized facial pain
- Eye pressure pain
- Sinus pressure pain
- Ear pain and/or tinnitus
- Chronic headaches
- Swelling or pain around the jaw joint
- Popping or clicking noises when moving the jaw
If you experience any of these symptoms, please contact The Smile Centre today. We will determine the cause of your symptoms and develop a customized treatment plan to restore your jaw to optimal health.
One of the most common symptoms of TMJ is a headache. Jaw misalignment, and the resulting pressure on the trigeminal nerve, can cause painful, migraine-like headaches. If you have been unable to identify the underlying cause of your headaches, you may be suffering from temporomandibular joint disorder.
What Causes TMD?
TMD can result from problems with the jaw joint, jaw muscles or facial nerves. Some issues that can trigger these problems include:
- Jaw misalignment from missing or worn teeth, or other dental issues
- Displacement of the cushioning disc between the ball and socket of the jaw joint
- Bruxism (chronic teeth grinding)
- Injury to the jaw
The Difference Between TMJ and TMD
TMJ and TMD are used interchangeably to refer to disorders impacting the temporomandibular joint, the synovial joint at the conjunction of the mandible (lower jaw) and the maxilla (upper jaw). It is often simply referred to as the “jaw joint.”
There are dozens of conditions that can impact the alignment of the jaw joint. These are collectively referred to as TMJ or TMD for diagnostic purposes, though TMJ is the more common of the two.
Who Is a Candidate for TMJ Treatment?
You are a good candidate for TMJ treatment if you have been diagnosed with a misaligned jaw. Symptoms of this common condition include clicking, popping, or grinding noises when opening and shutting the mouth, chronic headaches, and pain or swelling around the jaw joint. If you are experiencing any of these issues, it is a good idea to undergo a thorough neuromuscular dental evaluation to determine if TMJ treatment will help.
You will need to undergo a neuromuscular dental evaluation to determine if TMJ treatment is necessary. At our office, this may include a combination of advanced technology and hands-on diagnostics, enabling us to determine the presence and extent of misalignment.
If you are diagnosed with TMJ, we will begin to work on a treatment plan to be completed at a future appointment. You will not need to do anything special to prepare for this appointment, though we may suggest stress reduction and simple lifestyle changes if your condition is related to bruxism.
Is TMJ Treatment Painful?
No. TMJ treatment should not result in any pain. In fact, it should alleviate the pain being caused by your condition. There may be an adjustment period to treatments such as an occlusal guard, oral splint, dental restorations, or orthodontic services, but pain should not be expected following TMJ treatment.
The most appropriate treatment for TMJ/TMD varies from patient to patient, depending on the details of their condition. Most TMJ treatments focus on restoring your jaw’s proper alignment. Common TMJ treatments include:
- Restorative dental procedures
- Mouth guards to reduce teeth grinding
- Bite-correcting orthotics
The Smile Centre utilizes sophisticated technology and years of training and experience to identify and effectively treat TMJ. During your TMJ consultation, we will thoroughly evaluate your oral condition, identify any issues with your jaw or jaw muscles and design a customized treatment plan just for you.
What Is Recovery from TMJ Treatment Like?
There is no recovery period from the TMJ treatments offered at The Smile Centre. If restorations are needed, there may be an adjustment period as your bite acclimates to its new shape and size. The same may be true with the shifting of teeth that can accompany orthodontic treatment. There is, however, no standard “recovery” from TMJ treatment.
What to expect from your results
TMJ treatment helps to restore alignment to the jaw and reduce symptoms such as persistent pain and noises when biting and chewing. Some cases of TMJ are fully treated after the placement of dental restorations or the completion of orthodontic services. However, others may require continued use of an occlusal guard or night guard to help prevent future misalignment.
"This office is wonderful and your all younger and that means I won’t have to find a new Doctor as your excellence will Keep you strong with character and integrity in your work will keep this office going strong. Thank you for being the dentistry I needed and will be here for my future needs. God Bless & continued prosperity." -Linda
What Happens if My TMJ Goes Untreated?
Untreated TMJ can result in frequent headaches and may result in neck, shoulder, and back pain, and general facial pain as well. When left untreated, TMJ may cause issues such as sinus pressure, tinnitus, and pain in the ears. It may also cause uneven tooth wear, resulting in permanent changes to the strength and tension of your bite.
In some cases, TMJ can cause a forward jutting of the jaw, which may cause neck strain and ultimately impact your posture. This can, in turn, cause issues as diverse as back strain and digestive distress when the condition remains untreated. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of TMJ, there is no need to suffer. Simply contact our office to schedule a thorough evaluation and learn about the treatment options that will best meet your needs.
What Can I Do At Home to Improve My TMJ/TMD Symptoms?
In addition to progressional TMJ treatment, there are several habits TMJ patients can develop to help reduce their symptoms. These habits can include:
- Eating soft foods
- Gum chewing
- Nail biting
- Wearing your mouth guard persistently
- Applying ice packs to the face to reduce swelling
- Avoiding poor posture
- Doing jaw and mouth exercises
How Painful Can TMJ Get?
Pain is subjective, but many patients with TMJ report debilitating headaches, severe pain when opening and shutting their jaws, vision disrupting ocular pain, relentless ear pressure, and similar discomforts.
Pain medications may be temporarily effective at treating these symptoms, but cannot address the underlying problem and will fail to produce lasting results. Over-reliance on pain medications can also result in liver damage, stomach bleeding, addiction, and death, making it wise to seek alternative strategies for dealing with chronic pain.
Which Procedures Might be Combined for TMJ Treatment?
TMJ treatment may be completed with an occlusal guard alone, although it often requires a combination of treatments to fully correct.
To address TMJ we may need to provide orthodontic services, restorative services, and cosmetic treatments in addition to the creation of a customized oral appliance. We may also encourage lifestyle changes, work on relaxation and stress-management techniques, and provide additional suggestions to help ensure that you get the most out of your TMJ treatment.
Do Braces or Invisalign® Help TMJ?
Misaligned teeth can often be a root cause of jaw pain and TMJ symptoms. Many people who get braces experience an improvement in their TMJ symptoms as their teeth straighten over time. Orthodontic treatments, in addition to TMJ treatment, may help get rid of TMJ symptoms.
To learn more about our orthodontic treatments, click here.
Will My TMJ Flare-Up Again After Treatment?
TMJ can return after treatment. This makes maintenance efforts all the more important.
What Are Some Ways I Can Maintain My TMJ Results?
The exact cause of TMJ is not always known. However, there are some steps you can take that may help to reduce the risk of future discomfort and see the difference made by a TMJ procedure. These include:
- Stress reduction practices
- Standing upright
- Performing daily jaw exercises
- Getting a good night’s sleep
- Not grinding your teeth
- Not biting or chewing on non-food items
It is also important that you complete your TMJ treatment and are consistent with nightguard usage in cases where continued support is needed.
What Should You Not Do With TMJ?
If you have TMJ, you will want to avoid:
- Chewing hard foods or non-food items
- Chewing on gum
- Biting your nails
- Grinding your teeth
It is also a good idea to avoid resting on your chin if you have TMJ.
When you come to The Smile Centre for TMJ treatment, we will provide you with instructions on what to do and what to avoid in order to reduce symptoms and improve comfort. Our goal is your 100% satisfaction. If you have been living with pain, give us a call to learn how we can help.
Contact us Today!
If you live in the Sarasota, Bradenton area of Florida and want to find out if TMJ treatment is right for you, please contact The Smile Centre today to schedule a consultation. If you live in the Sarasota area of Florida, contact our Palm Aire location online or at 941-351-4468. If you live in or around Florida, please contact us online.