Do you frequently notice a popping or clicking sensation your jaw? What about a headache or facial pain with no visible cause? These are common examples of TMJ disorder symptoms. Over ten million people a year suffer from TMJ disorders, also known as TMD. Worcester, MA dentist Dr. Robert Gauthier offers diagnosis and treatment for temporomandibular disorders (TMD). Left untreated, TMJ can lead to additional dental problems including tooth loss.
Our dentists have extensive post graduate training and experience in treating TMJ, helping patients to restore both their oral health and daily quality of life. We take a comprehensive approach to treatment, seeking to identify the underlying cause and recommend appropriate, lasting treatment.
What Is temporomandibular joint (TMJ)?
Why do we develop this disorder? TMJ is a bite disorder often characterized by symptoms such as headaches, jaw pain and difficulty chewing. TMJ refers to the temporomandibular joint that connects the skull and lower mandible of the jaw and enables chewing and speaking. However, when these joints undergo excessive strain or is not functioning properly for any reason, the overall bite is affected and teeth will wear unevenly or become damaged. This can mean difficulty properly opening and closing your mouth. Factors behind jaw joint strain may include injury, malocclusion, tooth loss, or bruxism (teeth grinding).
TMJ can be caused by a number of factors, including:
- Trauma to the head, neck, or face
- Trauma to the TMJ joint or arthritis
- Hormonal changes or imbalances
- Malocclusion (where the jaws do not line up correctly resulting in bite problems)
What are the most common symptoms of TMJ?
Your Russell Street dentist will look for the signs of a bite disorder such as worn or damaged teeth, but there are additional symptoms that can affect both oral health and daily life:
- Teeth grinding or clenching, often characterized by worn teeth
- toothaches and/or tooth sensitivity
- Neck and shoulder pain
- Limited mobility in the jaw
- Clicking or popping when opening or closing jaw
If you think you may recognize any of these warning signs, then please schedule a visit with our Worcester dentist office.
How Do You Treat TMJ Issues?
Your TMJ treatment will be tailored to your unique dental concerns, designed to address any tooth damage and restore your dental health. The treatment we recommend will depend on the cause of your jaw joint discomfort. If misalignment is placing pressure on the joints, we may recommend orthodontics. Other times, placing or repairing restorations can ease jaw joint pressure. In many cases, the doctor may employ a custom-made night guard to help reposition the jaw while you sleep. Dr. Gauthier may recommend any one, or a combination of the following treatments for TMJ:
- Occlusal equilibration: bite correction therapy to enable the teeth to come into proper contact. This may involve one or several restorative dental treatments:
- Removing tooth structure
- Applying dental crowns or porcelain veneers
- Orthodontic treatment
- Implant dentistry
- TMJ mouthguard or splint therapy: the most common initial treatment option, your dentist will create a custom oral appliance to address teeth grinding and relieve symptoms
- Orthodontics: Invisalign or traditional braces may be recommended to realign the bite and restore oral health.
Your Russell Street dentist may recommend restorative dental treatments such as dental crowns or tooth bonding to repair damaged teeth. If you are experiencing any TMJ symptoms, call us at (508) 687-6579, or schedule an appointment online today.
TMJ Treatment FAQs
How can I find some relief from my TMJ pain?
TMJ symptoms can be very painful and interfere with your life. Alternating heat and ice can help reduce some of the pain. Eating softer foods and foods in smaller bites will reduce the stress on the jaw. The most important thing you can do is reduce stress in your life. Relaxation techniques such as slow breathing or yoga can be very helpful in reducing your TMJ pain. You may take over the counter pain relievers when necessary.
Can a TMJ disorder cause frequent headaches?
Frequent headaches are a common sign of a TMJ disorder. Most people with a TMJ disorder report that they experience the headaches first thing in morning. With the right treatment, your headaches should subside.
Could my bad habits cause my TMJ disorder?
There are several life style habits that can lead to TMJ pain. These include nail biting, chewing on lips and cheeks, clenching jaw, resting your jaw on your hands, teeth grinding, and not controlling your stress.