Do you have jaw pain, headaches, toothaches, or ear symptoms? Does your jaw pop and click when you bite, chew, laugh, or talk? Have you been trying to get a positive diagnosis and effective treatment for a while? If so, then you might have a temporomandibular joint disorder (called TMJ or TMD). This condition is common, but often misdiagnosed, so it’s hard to get successful treatment. A neuromuscular dentist can help you in ways that doctors can’t.
Neuromuscular dentist Dr. Andrea Stevens looks at and treats your bite system as a whole. This helps her deliver comfortable and durable restorations, but it also helps her treat TMJ. For help in the Kanata area, please call 613.271.7091 today for an appointment with Dr. Andrea Stevens.
Symptoms of TMJ
TMJ can be very hard to diagnose because it presents so many different symptoms. This includes:
- Jaw pain
- Jaw popping and clicking
- Bite that feels “wrong”
- Tooth wear, chipping and cracking
- Headaches (including migraines)
- Face pain
- Neck pain
- Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
- Ear fullness
- Back pain
- Tingling or numbness in the fingers
Most people understand that a jaw condition can cause many different types of jaw symptoms, but some have difficulty understanding how it can cause so many widespread symptoms. If you understand TMJ, you see how its symptoms can easily radiate outward from the jaw.
What Is TMJ?
The temporomandibular joint links the temporal bone of the skull (which houses the middle and inner ear) and the jaw or mandible. It’s a critical joint at a critical intersection of the body. The label TMJ (or TMD) is used to refer to a loose group of conditions that affect this joint and related systems. There are many types of TMJ, with the three most common being:
- Muscle pain disorder (MPD)
- Disc displacement
- Degenerative joint disease
In MPD, an imbalance in bite forces leads to soreness in the jaw muscles. This causes facial pain, tension headaches, and more. Because the nerve that triggers migraines is also the nerve that controls the jaw muscles, these two conditions are linked as well. Disc displacement occurs when the cushioning disc in the joint gets out of place. This causes jaw popping and clicking, as well as irregular joint movement. Degenerative joint disease occurs when the joint itself is attacked by some form of arthritis (usually). It’s possible to have multiple types of TMJ at once.
Scientific Diagnosis and Treatment
Many cases of TMJ are transitory and pass. At the first sign of symptoms, try home care for about a week, but if symptoms don’t respond or if they recur, it’s time to seek professional help. Successful treatment depends on proper diagnosis. This starts with a discussion of your medical history and symptoms. We’ll then conduct a physical exam. We use Computer Diagnostics to get digital measurements of the state of your jaw, including the tension in your muscles, the sound of the joint, and the precise motion of your jaw.
Once we’ve diagnosed your TMJ, we will design an oral splint to help resolve your symptoms. It can take a few weeks to get full relief, but once we know the proper jaw position, we can design full mouth reconstruction so that your teeth can hold your jaw in this healthy position without the splint. This is optional, but many people prefer it, especially if their teeth have been damaged by their TMJ.
Relief in Kanata
If you are struggling with the symptoms of your TMJ, you don’t have to keep suffering. Relief is available. Please call 613.271.7091 today or book an appointment with neuromuscular dentist Dr. Andrea Stevens at Andrea Stevens Dentistry.