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Temporomandibular disorder (TMJ or TMD) is a painful disorder with many symptoms that affects the temporomandibular joint, an area that includes the jaw joint, the temporal bone of the skull (located in front of each ear), as well as the muscles surrounding the jaw and the jaw itself.
These areas of the head and face contribute to chewing/bite (occlusion) and all jaw movements. Therefore, TMJ disorder compromises jaw movement and may cause pain at rest or during common actions, such as talking, chewing, and yawning.
The pain and discomfort caused by TMJ disorders may be mild to severe and can be intermittent, with constant TMJ symptoms varying from patient to patient in intensity and duration.
As a highly trained dentist in the treatment of TMD, Dr. Martin Gorman has spent years learning and practicing the most advanced technology and research to bring relief to TMD patients. The heart of our practice is to help you find freedom from TMJ and related symptoms—especially TMJ tension headaches and migraine headaches.
Dr. Gorman’s firm commitment to his patients is to provide relief from migraine headaches, teeth grinding, jaw popping and clicking, ringing in ears, as well as any jaw, face, head, or neck pain related to TMJ. His approach is a comprehensive program for treating all TMJ issues.
For more information about TMJ and how it can be resolved, we encourage you to read the details provided below, or simply contact our practice today to schedule an appointment with Dr. Gorman.
What Are the Symptoms of TMD/TMJ?
Symptoms can vary and include:
- Pain around your ears
- Pain in your jaw, tooth, face, neck, or shoulders
- Clicking or popping of your jaw (jaw instability)
- Inability to open your mouth in a normal range of motion
- Grinding your teeth
- Ringing or fullness in your ears
- Migraine headaches or any other type of headaches
- Sinus pressure and lack of draining
What Causes TMD/TMJ?
There are many causes of TMD/TMJ, including:
- Braces/dental work
- Stress/teeth grinding
- Dental malocclusions (poor bite)
- Missing or bad teeth
- Muscle abuse/overuse
Diagnosing TMJ: Poor Occlusion and Bite Imbalance
Before the progression of advanced dental technologies, diagnosing a patient’s state of occlusion required some guesswork. Dentists could not measure the force of a bite, and subsequently balance those forces properly between the muscles and joints of the head and neck, with the aid of imprecise and unreliable tools such as pressure indicator paste, articulation paper, and waxes. These techniques were often inadequate and lacked the sensitivity necessary to detect simultaneous contact. Furthermore, these traditional methods failed to measure biting time and FORCE, which are both essential assessments when diagnosing TMJ disorder.
Successful diagnosis and treatment of your TMJ condition requires state-of-the-art technology. We use the only computerized test that can accurately and objectively measure your bite/occlusion. Do not leave your bite to chance!
TMD and Migraine or Tension Headaches
The most common TMD complaint is migraine headache accompanied by jaw, head, neck, and/or shoulder pain. Migraine headaches usually start in the forehead, temples, or back of the head. Those who clench or grind their teeth may also develop migraine-like headaches. Although the majority of migraines and TMJ headaches have various causes, they all have one thing in common: dysfunction of the temporomandibular joint of the jaw.
- Tenderness in the muscles of the jaw, head, neck, and face; these “hot spots” in the muscles—called trigger points—create pain that causes migraine headaches and referral pain patterns
- Clenching of the teeth (or bruxism)
The good news is that these migraine headaches and other headaches along with the associated pain can be treated effectively. There’s no need to continue to live with migraine headache pain when you can get relief from these symptoms naturally without drugs.
Comprehensive Treatment: The Three Aspects of TMJ Disorder
Effectively addressing TMJ disorders involves treatment of three factors. They include:
- Incorrect bite alignment (occlusion)
- Incoordination between the muscles and joints of the jaw, head, neck, and teeth
- Management of stress imbalance through at-home care
These components all work together and inform each other, so the likelihood of successful treatment decreases when your TMJ dentist or doctor is not addressing all three parts.
When you visit our practice for TMJ treatment, Dr. Gorman will start with a complete in-office assessment, including computer evaluation of head/neck/biting forces and their relationship to healthy muscle and joint positioning. Using this information, he can construct a customized oral appliance designed to correct bite alignment and any imbalances between the muscles and joints. In addition, the appliance makes clenching the teeth almost impossible, helping alleviate pain and pressure associated with stress-related clenching throughout the day. Depending on your unique needs, Dr. Gorman may also incorporate co-therapies such as cranial adjustments, chiropractic adjustments, myofunctional therapy, and others to treat the exact cause(s) of your TMJ and achieve the most successful resolution of your symptoms.
Combining TMJ Therapy with Sleep Apnea Treatment
It is not uncommon for individuals who have TMD to also suffer from sleep apnea. Fortunately, these two conditions can often be addressed simultaneously at Gorman Dental Center! By biologically expanding the upper and/or lower jaw, Dr. Gorman can help you treat nighttime obstructions responsible for sleep apnea while achieving proper occlusion and an end to TMJ issues.
Frequently Asked Questions About TMJ Disorder
What is the prognosis for TMJ disorder?Prognosis for TMD is good, as most individuals respond well to treatment. Success rates of treatment are significantly enhanced when a comprehensive approach that addresses occlusion, muscle/joint balance, and stress management is employed.
Why does TMJ disorder cause pain in other areas?Similar to the way changing how you walk to accomodate a sore ankle can eventually cause aching in the hips or lower back, continual malfunction of the temporomandibular joint can lead to discomfort elsewhere in the body since the muscles in various other areas must adapt accordingly and act irregularly. Areas outside of the head and jaw that are most commonly affected by TMD include the shoulders, neck, and back.
How long does TMJ last? Will it resolve on its own?If left untreated, TMJ disorder may persist forever, never resolving on its own. In fact, it might actually worsen over time, causing symptoms to progressively increase in severity. Like most health-related conditions, being evaluated by and receiving treatment from a qualified professional like Dr. Gorman is the best way to resolve TMD.
Do jaw exercises for TMJ work?While jaw stretching, massaging, and various other TMJ home remedies may help temporarily alleviate TMJ pain for some people, the relief provided by these exercises is typically just that—temporary. Complete, lasting resolution of TMD can usually only be achieved via professional treatment that targets the underlying cause(s) of the condition.
How often will I need to wear my TMJ oral appliance?While the exact answer to this question will depend on your unique treatment plan, Dr. Gorman generally recommends patients wear their TMJ oral appliance every night as they sleep. The pressure applied by the appliance works to gradually move the teeth and/or jaw(s) into proper position. Once optimal occlusion is achieved, the device helps maintain ideal positioning.
Dr. Gorman Can Help You Find Relief from Your TMD/TMJ Pain
Schedule an appointment with Dr. Gorman to receive your full assessment and begin your life without TMD/TMJ pain!