Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMD).
TMD is thought to be fairly common as several researchers have found clicking and popping noises in the jaw joints to be present in 40-60% of the general population. Considering that normal healthy TMJ’s are completely silent at all times, the 40 – 60% figure is a rather staggering one to consider. The good news is that TMD symptoms are quite variable in nature, with most being a mild annoyance. However, a small percentage of patients with TMD have symptoms which degenerate into crippling chronic pain and limited jaw mobility. A recent National Institute of Health study indicates that over nine million Americans suffer from TMJ pain on a regular basis.
Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMD) is a collective term referring to a number of clinical problems involving the Temporomandibular joints (TMJ’s) and associated muscles and structures of the area.
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The good news is that TMD symptoms are quite variable in nature, with most being a mild annoyance.
Common symptoms of TMJ are:
- Pain about the face, head and neck regions
- Clicking, popping, and or grating noises in the jaw joints
- A limited ability to open the mouth wide or move it side-to-side
- Frequent headaches, often around the temple area
- Earaches, buzzing, or ringing noises in the ears
- Deep pain in the jaw joint itself
- Soreness or pain in the cheek area
- “Sticking”, catching, or locking up of the jaw
- A sudden inability to find a comfortable bite position
Here are several more TMJ treatment testimonials.
Common causes of TMJ include:
- Long-term strain – Long-term strain on the TMJ’s caused by a sleep pattern of chronic grinding and/or clenching of the teeth (bruxism). This may lead to permanent damage to the teeth and TMJ’s themselves.
- Arthritis – Arthritis of the TMJ’s particulary in patients which TM disc dislocations.
- Systemic Diseases – Systemic diseases such as gout, lupus, scleroderma, and fibromyaldia may also contribute to TMJ – like symptoms or problems.
- Trauma – Accidents involving direct or indirect trauma to the head, face, and / or neck may lead to partial or total TMJ disc dislocation, stretched or torn TMJ ligaments, and impaired joint function.
- Malocclusions (Bad Bites) – Certain types of malocclusions (bad bites) can chronically overstress the TMJ’s and related structures every time you chew. This in turn can lead to TM join damage.
- Growth Disturbances – Growth and / or development disturbances of the structures of the face and tM joints may cause malformation of the TM joint structures and therefore the dysfunction occurs.
- Extensive dental proceedures – Extensive dental proceedures which have overstressed the muscles, joints, ligaments, nerves, may also lead to TMJ ligaments inflammation or damage. This in turn could lead to muscle spasms and / or TMJ disc dislocation.
- General Anesthesia intubations – General anasthesia intubations which strain weak TM joints or damage healthy TM joints by overextending the joint while the patient is sleep.
- Other Causes – Some other reasons for TMD are less identifiable and may result from a combination of small events such as lying against a partially strained or damaged (but previously asymptomatic) TMJ while sleeping.
Other reasons include irritability of facial muscles due to an inadequate diet, muscle tension due to caffeine, nicotine, and sugar. Lastly, studies have also shown a link between stress and the frequency of teeth grinding at night. This chronic and prolonged nightly activity ultimately damages the TM joints or impair the body’s ability to heal a damaged joint.
How are TMJ Disorders diagnosed?
This determination is made following an initial TMJ screening.
The first step in the management of TMJ disorders is to determine that the concern is not another type of medical or dental problem behaving as if it were a TMJ problem. This determination is made following an initial TMJ screening visit that includes the completion of a thorough TMJ history form, screening x-rays of the teeth and jaw joints, and a preliminary clinical examination of the jaw joints, muscle system, bite, and teeth. We also advise patients to seek a concurrent proper medical exam from proper medical exam from a medical doctor (ideally an ENT) to rule out the presence of medical problems which are occurring in combination with or disguising themselves as TMJ problems.
Following a TMJ screening examination, a preliminary diagnosis can be rendered. If the preliminary diagnosis is TMJ disorder, then further tests will be indicated to identify the exact nature and to assist in developing a treatment strategy.
How are TMJ Disorders treated?
This determination is made following an initial TMJ screening.
Initial treatment for TMJ disorder can range from resting the joints, switching to a soft diet and prescribed medication to stabilization of the joints through the use of a specially designed and custom adjusted hard acrylic orthotic appliance that fits on the top teeth. This appliance, when properly designed, redistributes the stresses on the TMJ’s, and muscle system while specifically guarding and guiding certain joint movements.
What happens to the 5% of patients who are not successfully treated via professionally designed and managed orthotic appliances?
These patients are typically sent to one of the few highly trained and experienced TMJ surgical specialists in the world, Dr. Mark Piper in St. Petersburg, Florida. Dr. Piper evaluates each patient for the value of surgical intervention.
Testimonials & Clients
Read some of the amazing results our clients have to share.
Tooth ImplantsI recently had Dr. Henny help me by having four teeth implants and crowns done. I was initially afraid to do this, but he helped me understand why it was a good idea and made the whole process pretty easy. I am so happy that I did this, because now I can chew so much better and I now longer need to wear a partial - which I always hated! James Miller
Lives up to reputationI am so happy that I have finally found a dental practice where I feel heard and safe. This place is amazing. Every staff member is so kind and helpful, and Dr. Henny spent a lot of time with me, helping me understand my options. I hated going to the dentist in the past. I can't wait to see my old smile made new again! Barbara D.