In today’s focus on dentistry, let’s talk about conservative treatment for TMJ problems. Hi, I’m Dr. Paul Henny, and in a previous segment we talked a little bit about the anatomy of the TMJ and how the jaw joint system works in a very general sense. In this episode let’s talk a little more about how we can treat some of these situations, particularly situations where the jaw joints, the bones in the jaw joint, are actively breaking down.

But about 95% of the TMJ cases we tend to see are where there are changes in the jaw joint, perhaps the disc structures have moved, to the side or completely off, but the bones themselves are in pretty good shape, they’re not dramatically changing, and most of the ligaments are still intact. These typically represent situations where an individual might have headaches, they might have noises in their joint, they might have pain in their joint, they might have soreness in their jaws in this area, but there is the probability that we can stabilize the situation.

In today’s world we generally don’t go into your TMJ joint surgically unless your joint system is unstable… your bite is changing or your bones are changing dimensionally. In situations where that’s not happening, we tend to want to work with what I call conservative therapies.

Conservative therapies tend to include things like bite appliances or physical therapy and sometimes prescriptions. So let me just talk for a minute about the use of bite appliances to stabilize a change, systematic change, in a jaw joint system. On this model we have created a bite appliance and we put it so that it fits with the teeth together. This is fairly typical of one that we would do. The teeth are set up so that they hit evenly all the way around, and it’s actually set up so that your teeth glide on it in a very specific way. This is key, the way this is all set up, the way they touch, and when they touch, and how they glide. All of this has an influence on how the muscles respond, how the joint responds, and how comfortable you will be over time. But with an average case, with a bite appliance that’s administered by a dentist who understands this and adjusts this on a regular basis, we can get things to settle down.

The joints will stop hurting, the headaches will have a tendency to diminish if not totally go away, and the pain in this area for most people will go away usually pretty fast. So that’s a fairly typical case that we would treat in a conservative sense.

If these sort of sound like issues that you might be confronting or if you know somebody that’s having trouble with them, I’d encourage you to have them give us a call, at 774-1577. We can sit down with you and kind of talk about your exact situation in person.

Thanks, I’m Dr. Paul Henny, and I’ll see you.