While recognizing TMJ problems is within the ability of most physicians and dentists, not all practitioners are qualified to diagnose it properly and treat it right. It is imperative that a trained practitioner in Craniofacial pain or Neuromuscular Dentistry give the final and definitive diagnosis, and suggest the most suitable treatment plan.
There is a lot of skepticism about TMJ treatment in the medical society, and that is simply due to the fact that physicians didn't receive the dental training and didn't acquire the knowledge required for such complicated diagnosis and treatment. Furthermore, many dentists rush into treating TMJ thinking that they can cure these problems, only to find that they lack the skill and experience to get the job done.
There are many causes for TMD such as:
1. Unbalanced occlusion or 'Bad Bite'
2. Stress (emotional or work/school related)
3. Injury or trauma (this could have been an injury as obvious as a blow to the jaw with a fist or something as subtle as a whiplash injury with direct trauma to the head or jaw.)
4. Teeth grinding or Bruxism
A 'Bad Bite' could be caused by any of the following:
1. Missing teeth
2. Crowded or 'crooked' teeth
3. Worn down teeth
4. Old crowns and bridges
5. Unbalanced dentures
When teeth are missing, or out of alignment, it causes the jaw to shift positions and the muscles to work harder to chew, swallow, bite, etc. and eventually will cause: muscle spasms, tension and pain.
Muscle tension and misplaced TMJ could cause the TMJ disc to be pulled out of place which will result in pain, clicking and popping in the TMJ.
If the disc is displaced for a long time, the bones will start rubbing against each other and some damage will happen to the bone, this is called Osteoarthritis.
If there is inflammation in other joints or bones of the body, it is called Osteoarthritis (Arthritis) which may involve the jaw bone and the TMJ. Some damage to the bone may be evident on the x-rays.
Many patients who suffer from TMD symptoms, were never told that it is related to their TMJ problem, and were not aware that treating their TMJ could easily relieve their suffering.
Headaches and Migraines:
If you suffer from headaches or migraines, TMJ dysfunction, could be the major and most likely cause of your suffering. Your doctors, including neurologists, have simply not received the dental training required to relate your migraine or headache pain to your TMJ problems. Once you rule out any brain tumors or aneurysms, TMJ should be checked and TMD should be treated to relieve the headaches and migraines.
Due to the proximity of the TMJ to the ears, it is very common to feel ears congestion, or to have ringing in the ears when the TMJ bones move or dislocate from their place. In this case ENT's (ear doctors) won't find anything wrong with the ears, yet the patients keep complaining about their ears. Once the TMJ is put back into its natural position, the pressure put on the ears will be relieved and the congestion disappears.
Tingling or numbness in the fingers:
When the TMJ is not in a balanced position, it affects the general posture of the body. When the posture is not straight and upright, the nerves coming out from the spine could be irritated, which could cause the numbness or tingling feeling in the fingertips.
Do you ever experience a clicking or popping sound when opening or closing your mouth? Have you been suffering from headaches or migraines and no one seems to be able to help you? Have you been taking pain medicine for years and would like to get off of it? Do you feel any clogging or congestion in one or both of your ears? These are just a few of many symptoms that might be associated with TMD, or Temporomandibular Dysfunction, a common condition affecting the jaw joint or Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ).
TMJ dysfunction, often referred to as TMD, is a disharmony between the way the jaw joint works in an unstrained position and the way the teeth and bite work during those movements. Possible causes of this disharmony include tooth loss, accidents (like whiplash), mal-positioned and/or underdeveloped cranial or jawbones, and perhaps habits like clenching or teeth grinding. Many people go through life suffering from headaches and a variety of facial and neck pains without knowing the ultimate cause, which in many cases is TMJ disorder.
TMJ or The Temporomandibular Joint
They are the two joints which connect the lower jaw to the temporal bone at the side of the head. If you place your fingers just in front of your ears and open your mouth, you can feel the joint on each side of the head.
Because these joints are flexible, the jaw can move smoothly up and down and side to side, enabling us to talk, chew and yawn. When the TMJ is not functioning normally and it is not within its physiological limits, it creates a condition called TMD.
TMD or Temporomandibular Dysfunction, is a group of conditions resulting from not having a normal function or 'comfortable' positioning of the TMJ, and will present as a cycle of pain, muscle spasms and jaw problems.
When teeth are missing, out of alignment, crowded or misshaped, chewing and biting can not be achieved in a balanced way, so the TMJ and the muscles of chewing try to compensate for this unbalanced movement which results in symptoms that will confirm the presence of TMD.
Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMD) is not just a disorder, but a group of conditions, often painful, that affect the jaw joint or Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) and the muscles that control chewing.
TMD falls into three main categories:
1. Myofascial pain, the most common form of TMD, which is discomfort or pain in the muscles that control jaw functions and the neck and shoulder muscles.
2. Internal derangement of the joint meaning a dislocated or displaced disc or injury to the condyle (the rounded part at the end of the jaw bone).
3. Degenerative joint disease such as Osteoarthritis or Rheumatoid Arthritis in the jaw joint.
The NTI-TSS System is a type of mouth guard that is placed on the patient's upper teeth. This lets the lower jaw rest in its proper place and causes the teeth to subside from being able to clench together.
If you experience chronic headaches, please ask your doctor because the NTI-TSS System could work for you.
Lawrence C. Lee, DDS would love to meet you and your family and provide you with the dental care you need and give you all the smiles you deserve! Our office provides the dental care you need to achieve the beautiful, natural look you seek. We can even reshape your natural teeth to make them straighter and more youthful. Our office is easily accessible and makes it convenient to those living near Hayward to get the care they deserve.