Tempro-Mandibular Joint Dysfunction Syndrome (TMJ) is a common condition affecting a wide variety of people. TMJ is characterized by severe headaches, jaw pain of varying degrees, change in bite, or diffuculting associated with opening and closing The vast majority of TMJ sufferers are unaware that the root cause of these problems is something that a dentist can effectively treat.
The symptoms of TMJ are debilitating and can greatly interfere with every day life. The comfort and general well being of the patient is at the heart of the dental practice, so pain relief is the first consideration of the dentist. The dentist is able to test, diagnose, and devise an immediate plan to treat the underlying causes of the TMJ disorder.
Dr. Jim Tyree has received advance training in diagnosis and treatment of TMJ disorders at the Piper Education and Research Center and The Dawson Academy.
Reasons for treating TMJ
TMJ sufferers report that their symptoms generally worsen during periods of prolonged or unexpected stress, and that intense outbreaks of the condition can lead to neck pain dizziness. Other symptoms include change of bite or difficulty opening.
A common cause of TMJ is the misalignment of the teeth, often called “bad bite.” It is possible for the dentist to realign or adjust the teeth without the need for surgeries. The realignment/adjustment will stop the pounding headaches, the jaw pain, and the dizziness.
The grinding teeth symptom is particularly common and usually occurs at night. The grinding will eventually erode the structure of the teeth and lead to much more severe dental problems in the future. Untreated TMJ is one of the prime underlying factors in eroded jawbones and loose teeth.
It is important for anyone experiencing the symptoms of TMJ to visit the dentist for an exact diagnosis.
What does treating TMJ Disorders involve?
TMJ could be a result of several different problems. The key to successful treatment of TMJ disorders lies in an accurate diagnosis which unfortunately, many patients never receive. Bad bite is the most common, but an injury resulting from a blow to the mandible or damage to the meniscus cartilage and associated ligaments is also a possibility. Initially, Dr. Tyree will thoroughly examine the jaw area, the patient's bite, take x-rays, and review the patient’s history. In addition, Dr. Tyree may recommend the patient to undergo a MRI or Cone Beam CT in order to make an accurate diagnosis and recommend the proper necessary treatment.
Once a firm diagnosis is attained, there are several ways in which relief can be provided. In more severe cases, disk repositioning surgery or total joint replacement may be necessary. Dr. Tyree works closely with a highly skilled team of oral surgeons and orthodontist with advance training in TMJ disorders.
In other cases, a specially molded bite guard can be created to protect the teeth during grinding in the night and alleviate TMJ symptoms. A bite relationship analysis may also be recommended by the dentist. Dr. Tyree can provide advice on relaxation techniques which will lessen the effects of stress. As a last alternative, the dentist is also able to prescribe muscle relaxants.
In some situations, a better option is to change the shape of the teeth and get rid of the bad bite completely, often called “realignment” or an "equilibration". This is especially useful because it alleviates TMJ symptoms and may improve the aesthetic appearance of the teeth as well. Realignment involves adjusting the relationship between how the upper teeth come together with the lower teeth. This may require new restorations and/or adjusting the natural teeth as well. It is not a painful procedure, and it is one Dr. Tyree has performed with great success numerous times. As with any procedure, Dr. Tyree will be happy to answer questions and discuss symptoms, options, and treatments.
If you are experiencing any symptoms of TMJ, we encourage you to contact our office today to schedule an appointment.