Treatment of TMJ/TMD Disorder
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The Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) is a hinge that connects the jaw to the skull right in front of each ear. This joint allows you to move your jaw to talk, chew, and yawn. When problems arise with your jaw and the muscles that control the jaw, this is known as Temporomandibular Dysfunction (TMD).
Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction (TMD) is a common condition affecting a wide variety of people. TMD is characterized by severe headaches, jaw pain of varying degrees, grinding teeth, and an intermittent ringing in the ears.
Common causes of TMD can include:
- Grinding or Clenching of your teeth
- Malocclusion (misalignment of the teeth)
- Injury to the jaw or joint
- Arthritis in the joint
- Movement of the disc in between the ball and socket of the joint
The vast majority of TMD sufferers are unaware that the root cause of these problems is something that Dr. Northcutt has the knowledge and experience with and can effectively treat in our office.
The symptoms of TMD are debilitating and can greatly interfere with everyday life.
The common signs & symptoms of TMD can include:
- Headaches & Ear pain
- Clicking & popping of the joint
- Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
- Neck pain
- Vertigo (dizziness)
- Trismus (reduced opening)
- Tooth Sensitivity
- Lock jaw
The comfort and general wellbeing of the patient is at the heart of our dental practice, so pain relief is the first consideration of the dentist. Dr. Northcutt is able to test, diagnose, and devise an immediate plan to treat the underlying causes of the TMJ disorder.
Reasons for treating TMD:
TMD sufferers report that their symptoms generally worsen during periods of prolonged or unexpected stress, and that intense outbreaks of the condition can lead to neck pain and dizziness. The most common cause of TMD is the misalignment of the teeth, often called malocclusion or “bad bite.”
The grinding teeth symptom is particularly common and usually occurs at night. The grinding will eventually erode the structure of the teeth and lead to much more severe dental problems in the future. Untreated TMD is one of the prime underlying factors in eroded jawbones and loose teeth.
It is important for anyone experiencing the symptoms of TMD to visit the dentist for an exact diagnosis.
What does treating TMD involve?
Initially, Dr. Northcutt will thoroughly examine the jaw area, the patient’s occlusion, take X-rays, and review the patient’s history in order to make an accurate diagnosis and recommend necessary treatment. The first phase in treating TMD involves taking impressions of the teeth, measurements of the face, and the jaw. Dr. Northcutt then fabricates a customized functional orthopedic stabilization appliance (FOSA) for the patient to wear and it allows the jaw to rest in a more comfortable and ideal position and also stops the patient from grinding their teeth at night.
If the pain related to the TMD resolves after wearing the FOSA appliance, then Dr. Northcutt will discuss the next phase of treatment. Phase II of TMD treatment involves making changes to the shape of the teeth and treating the malocclusion, often called “realignment.” This is especially useful because it alleviates TMD symptoms, helps keep the jaw in a more relaxed position, and may improve the aesthetic appearance of the teeth as well. Realignment involves adjusting the relationship between how the upper teeth come together with the lower teeth. As with any procedure, Dr. Northcutt and Dr. Hardy will be happy to answer questions and discuss symptoms, options, and treatment options.
If you are experiencing any symptoms of TMD, we encourage you to contact our office today to schedule an appointment.