What is TMJ/TMD?

TMJ/TMD refers to a disorder of the chewing system including teeth, muscles and the jaw joint (Temporomandibular Joint). The disorder is caused by a misalignment between muscles, joint and upper and lower teeth.

Common Symptoms include:

  • Headaches- both migraine & sinus/pressure headaches
  • Worn Teeth
  • Cracked Teeth
  • Fractured Teeth
  • Loose/Sore Teeth
  • Pain on biting
  • Loss of gum tissue covering teeth (Recession)
  • Teeth sensitivity
  • Jaw pain
  • Joint popping and clicking
  • Limited jaw opening
  • Sore Face Muscles
  • Ear congestion or “fullness”
  • Neck and Shoulder pain
  • Numbness in arms and fingers

Evaluation by a TMJ Dentist for TMJ Disorder is very important especially when there is TMJ Pain.  Often there is a need for TMJ treatment by a TMJ Specialist.  Very few practitioners are educated and capable of making a diagnosis.

Due to the variety of symptoms and patient presentations, patients who suffer from TMJ/TMD visit doctors ranging from their general physician, neurologist, dentist, chiropracter, etc. Very few sufferers are properly diagnosed and therefore are improperly treated.

If properly diagnosed and treated TMJ can most often be resolved in days to a few months without the need for drugs or surgery.  While the cause of TMJ/TMD is not understood,  the treatment for TMJ is usually straight forward, though the specific treatment will vary from case to case.  We have successfully treated many cases. If you believe you suffer from TMJ/TMD, contact our office to schedule a “records” and “TMJ” evaluation appointment.

It will take about an hour and we can confirm or rule-out a TMJ/TMD diagnosis.

What Are TMJ Disorders?

TMJ disorders refer to a cluster of painful disorders and dysfunction of the jaw joint and the jaw muscles.  Many people experience symptoms such as on going pain in the area near your jaw, your ear or the muscles on the side of your face, possibly accompanied by a clicking or popping sound or restricted jaw movement, you may be suffering from TMD — an abbreviation for Temporomandibular disorders.

The disorders are often times the result of trauma, overuse, and para-function (non-useful or unnecessary jaw movements) like clenching and grinding. TMJ disorders are sometimes related to the way that your teeth fit together. People often incorrectly use the term TMJ to refer to these problems, when in fact TMJ is the abbreviation for the temporomandibular joint — or jaw joint — itself. So while you definitely have a TMJ (two of them in fact, each of us has one TMJ on each side of our jaw, located in front of the ear), you may or may not have TMD.

What Is A NTI-TSS?

Once your specific TMJ disorder is diagnosed by our dentists at Natural Dentist Associates, we will treat TMJ disorders with the use of an appliance called an NTI-TSS.  We recommend that patients be treated with an NTI.  This small device fits precisely over your front teeth and it does not allow the back teeth to come together. The NTI-TSS is generally worn while sleeping;however, it can worn during the day as well. The appliance allows the jaw muscles to relax. Most people begin to notice a significant difference after only a few days of use.

Dr Kimberly Baer says, “It’s important to diagnose TMJ/TMD as quickly as possible to alleviate the adverse side affects of teeth clenching. Prolonged clenching and grinding  can cause the tooth to become so weak that it can become vulnerable to leaks, cracks, and eventually the tooth can even break.”

Signs and Symptoms of TMD

  • Clicking Sounds — Some people with TMD hear a grating, clicking or popping sound coming from the TMJ  area when closing or opening the mouth. This is most often caused by the shifting of the disk inside the joint. A person standing right next to you might even be able to hear the clicking sounds.Since more than one third of all people have jaw joints that click, clicking, according to studies, by itself is actually not a significant symptom.  However, if the clicking is in conjuncture of  limited jaw function by pain, — and if your  jaw is getting “stuck” in an open or closed position, for example — this would indicate TMD.
  • Muscle Pain —  If you feel pain in the temples and cheeks, located where the two big pairs of jaw-closing muscles are located as well as soreness and stiffness upon waking up in the morning, this is often related to clenching and/or grinding the teeth at night. If you have this type of night habit, Dr Adams of Natural Dentist Associates, can have a night guard custom-made for you that should be very helpful in decreasing the force applied to your teeth, which will in turn allow your muscles to relax and relieve pressure on your jaw joints.
  • Joint Pain — If your pain is  actually coming from one  or both jaw joints technically would be described as arthritis (arth – joint; itis – inflammation) of the TMJ. When we look at x-rays  we find that some people have arthritic looking  TMJs but  there are no symptoms of pain or dysfunction; others have significant symptoms of pain and dysfunction but their joints look normal on x-rays. There is no cure for arthritis anywhere in the body, but medication can sometimes help with the arthritic symptoms.

*TMJ/ TMD is widespread. According to the National Pain Foundation, 75% of the American population has experienced one or more signs or symptoms of TMJ.  For many of those suffering have symptoms that change over time from mild to severe, but 5-12% of people have more severe symptoms and should seek treatment  {Lipton et al., 1993; Dworkin et al., 1990; Svensson et al, 2001; Duckro et al., 1990}.  Research shows that women are twice as likely to experience TMD than men.

For a Complimentary TMJ Consultation Call 301.770.2270