What Doctors Treat TMJ Disorder?
It is well worth noting, however, that a well-qualified dentist, using the correct procedures, can often alleviate many of the other symptoms involved in your TMJ disorder, lessening the need for any other professional care.
There are some TMJ sufferers who are actually unaware of the cause of their condition. Many people, who technically have TMJ disorder, manage with their symptoms, since they do not interfere severely with their lives. Patients with TMJ disorder quite often grind their teeth to find a comfortable bite. This causes flat areas on the tops of the teeth called occlusal wear facets. Wear facets often fit together revealing the bite that the body has been trying to create. Constant grinding also flexes and dissolves tooth roots. A notch at the bottom front of the tooth called an abfraction. Many hygienists confuse this for overzealous tooth brushing, but there are many patients who never brush who still have them.
When a patient’s jaw joints or jaw muscles are irritated, there can be deviation of the lower jaw to one side on opening. This is called mandibular opening deviation. For a variety of reasons, the human face does not always grow symmetrically. Facial asymmetry can cause TMJ problems. Repeated jaw muscle spasm can cause muscle shortening with limited opening. Looking at the side of a person’s face, you can often make out the lower jaw. The bottom of the lower jaw is typically parallel to the floor. Conversely, many TMD patients have a sharp downward angle. This TMJ symptom is called a sharp mandibular plane angle.
TMD sufferers often have speech irregularities that add to their muscular and functional problems. A dished out profile can be an indicator of a TMJ problem. It is often seen in patients who have a shortened facial height, which forces the TMJ towards the ear. As a defensive reflex, the body uses the chewing muscles to pull the jaw joint forward. This can often bring on muscle spasm and pain. Like a dished out profile, a short lower facial third can be a reflection of this same problem.
Another TMJ disorder symptom is when the corners of the mouth get red, swollen and painful. It’s called angular chelitis and is also seen when denture patients are wearing worn out dentures. An imbalance in the chewing and facial muscles occasionally causes an uncharacteristic lip posture, which can cause the face to look unusual. The horizontal facial fold under the lip and above the chin can be excessive. This is called a deep mentalis crease. It is not uncommon for a TMJ patient to have a forward head posture. This abnormal posture causes the head to be positioned forward. It stretches the anterior neck muscles and pulls the lower jaw backward into the patient’s ears.
It is not unusual to see swelling of a TMJ sufferer’s face. This TMJ symptom is called facial edema. Some sufferers have unusual movements of their necks (cervical torticollis) and lower jaws. (mandibular torticollis). Headaches truly plague TMJ sufferers. The most common TMJ related headache is a located on the side of the head over the area of the temple. This is called a temporal headache and is often misdiagnosed as a migraine.
The disparity of a TMJ patient’s facial, chewing and neck muscles can cause problems swallowing. This is called dysphagia. Because of the instability of the jaw, head and neck, cervical problems are frequent. This can lead to occipital headaches located at the back of the head. Postural problems are a characteristic TMJ disorder symptom. This abnormal posture may be due to the modification of the body to mouth breathing and the need to hold the head forward to breathe better. In severe cases, forward posture can cause thoracic outlet syndrome and paresthesia of the fingertips. (Paresthesia is an abnormal or unexplained tingling, pricking, or burning sensation on the skin)
The Treatment of TMD
The Bruxing Guard
Unfortunately, bruxing guards still allow the patient to clench against the guard. Since clenching is linked with overuse of the temporalis muscle, patients may still encounter tension headaches even though they wear their guard religiously.
The Bite Adjusted Bruxing Guard
The main disadvantage with this treatment modality is that your teeth do not look any better after you have cured the pain associated with TMJ disorder, and if the bruxing habits do not disappear on their own, the patient must continue wearing a bruxing guard whenever he is likely to be bruxing. In addition, patients still can clench against any bruxing guard. Therefore, even a correctly balanced bruxing guard will not consistently relieve all tension or migraine headaches, even though it usually will lessen their occurrence. The major advantage to this treatment modality is that it is economical and can often alleviate long-standing pain that has been a major impediment to a normal lifestyle for many years.
The Orthodontic Option
We recommend considering checking out this website for referrals to highly qualified dentists who specialize in TMJ disorders: