TMJ Treatment in Bentonville
TMJ, Your Teeth, and the Importance of a Harmonious Bite
Every year, millions of people suffer from headaches, migraines, facial pain, and unresolved ear complaints. All too often, they travel from doctor to doctor in search of relief, only to find that no one is getting to the root of the problem and helping them. Temporomandibular Joint Disorders (TMD) are a common finding for many of these people who sometimes suffer for years without finding a solution.
TMJ or TMD can show up in a many different ways. It can present as headaches, toothaches, worn or broken teeth, sinus pressure, facial tension, ear symptoms or pain in the jaw joints.
Symptoms of TMJ Disorder
The five largest and most powerful muscles of the head are the chewing muscles. When there are TMJ or bite problems, this chewing system tends to be a high stress system because it’s not fitting together properly. High stress in this case means an increase in muscle tension. In other words, these big powerful muscles are now working in a hyperactive, uncoordinated function, and this causes a number of symptoms, including:
- Worn teeth
- Broken teeth
- Broken or worn crowns
- Sore teeth
- Loose teeth
- Deep gum pockets
- Root canals (especially on back teeth)
- Shifting or splaying teeth
- Sinus pain
- Neck problems
- Ringing in ears
The list is extensive. These big chewing muscles also affect the minor muscles of facial expression; your facial appearance may even change with severe TMD.
Treating TMJ Disorders
Temporomandibular Joint Disorder is a condition where the lower jaw isn’t properly aligned with the base of the skull, causing headaches, facial pain, and even ear disorders. It’s often called the “Grand Imposter” because it mimics many other conditions that seem unrelated to your dental health. This also makes it difficult to find the proper treatment provider.
At Integrated Dentistry, we have extensive experience with this disorder and can help you overcome the pain you’ve been feeling. In fact, Dr. Johnson has already helped hundreds of patients suffering from TMD and he can help you too.
The first step in treating TMD is to determine the underlying cause by examining your teeth and jaw and discussing your symptoms. The way your teeth come into contact when you bite down directly affects the jaw joints’ alignment and stability. Other causes and contributing factors of TMD include injury (most commonly whiplash), other neck and back problems, stress, airway issues, teeth grinding, jaw clenching, and past growth and development problems of the jaw.
Once Dr. Johnson is able to understand the reason for your TMJ pain, he can put together a customized treatment plan to help you find relief for your pain. This may include any combination of the following:
A precision orthotic appliance custom built to exactly fit how your jaw works is often the best way to begin to address these issues.
- TMJ splints or mouthguards that improve jaw alignment and prevent nighttime teeth grinding and jaw clenching
- Physical therapy exercises
- Stress reduction techniques
- Self-managed care, including dietary changes and hot and cold therapy
- Botox injections
- Medications to relax the muscles or relieve inflammation
Frequently Asked Questions About TMJ Disorder
What Causes TMD/TMJ?
TMD can have a number of causes, including misalignment of the jaw, injury, neck and back problems, stress and anxiety, airway problems, nighttime jaw clenching or teeth grinding, and growth and development issues.
Do I have TMJ or TMD?
You may have TMJ disorder if you suffer from any of the following: migraines, tension headaches, facial fatigue, jaw pain, worn teeth, chipped teeth, cracked teeth, congestion or stuffiness of the ears, numbness of the fingers, clenching teeth, grinding of the teeth, limited jaw movement or locking of the jaw, neck aches, shoulder or back pain, sensitive teeth, snoring, or sleep apnea.
What kind of doctor should I see for TMJ?
It’s important to seek out a TMJ specialist like Dr. Johnson if you suspect you have TMD. Unfortunately, this is one of the most overlooked and misunderstood areas of medicine and dentistry. Physicians receive no training in TMJ and dental school education focuses primarily on the basics of tooth and gum health, with little focus on the larger system within which teeth function. Hopefully that will change in the future because it will certainly reduce the suffering of many patients and save a lot of teeth and smiles.
What happens if TMJ is left untreated?
If left untreated, TMJ disorder will usually progress, often causing permanent damage to the joints and teeth. This is why it’s important to get prompt treatment if you’re experiencing TMJ pain.
Can TMJ change your face?
Yes, one of the lesser-known symptoms of TMJ disorder is facial changes. Treating TMJ can have the effect of a facelift and improve your facial symmetry.
To learn more or schedule an appointment, call 479-333-1300.