While the exact number of people affect by TMJ (temporomandibular joint syndrome) is unknown, the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million American may currently be suffering from the condition. While it can effect anyone, more women than men are believed to currently dealing with TMJ related pain.
TMJ affects your temporomandibular joint which connects your lower jaw to the bone at the side of your head which allows your jaw to move up and down for actions such as talking, chewing, and yawning. Because it is a unique a complex joint, it can pose a great challenge when problems, such as TMJ, arise. Rather a single disorder, TMJ syndromes span a widely variety of different disorders. However, they do fall into three main categories: discomfort or pain in the muscles that control the jaw function, misalignment of the jaw, and arthritic based disorders. Since the causes can vary, an individual can even have more than one TMJ related disorder at the same time!
With so many different potential causes, it is no surprise that TMJ can affect patients in a wide variety of ways including:
• Headaches or migraines
• Unexplained loose teeth
• Cracked, chipped or broken dental restorations
• Pain or soreness around the jaw joints
• Pain in teeth that seems to move around Neck, shoulder or back pain
• Facial pain
• Clicking or grating sounds in the jaw joints
• Limited movement or locking jaw
• Numbness in your fingers and arms
• Congestion or stuffiness of the ears
It is important to remember that since each of these symptoms are part of an overall TMJ syndrome, they will not resolve on their own and require professional treatment by a qualified dentist. Likewise, due to the vast nature of symptoms, and the fact that some of these symptoms can be caused by other factors, only a dentist can truly evaluate you for TMJ syndrome related symptoms.
Once diagnosed as assessed by a qualified dentist, specific treatments can be addressed in several ways. If the case is not severe, a removable dental orthotic may be recommended to gently shift the position of teeth to create a better alignment. Alternatively, a coronoplasty can be performed which adjusts teeth to better balance a patient’s bite.
If the problem is more severe, dental restoratives which can precisely raise or lower bite areas may be necessary to create a naturally comfortable jaw position. Finally, based on the severity of the TMJ syndrome, a full mouth rehabilitation might be necessary which addresses not only the teeth, but also the gums and jaw as well.
Regardless of the best individual treatment option, the bottom-line is that the only symptom relief for sufferers is a qualified cosmetic dentist. Here at Edgerton and Fisher, both Dr. Stephen Edgerton and Dr. David Fisher are qualified and committed so correcting TMJ related issues. If you would like to be seen for a free consultation, contact us today!