TMJ disorder is a chronic pain condition that is associated with dysfunction of the temporomandibular joint. Symptoms such as chronic headaches, teeth grinding, facial and jaw pain are all common indications of TMJ disorder. Doctors often misdiagnose TMJ disorders which is why it is important for patients to visit a dentist with experienced in treating it for the appropriate testing.
If left untreated, TMJ disorder can affect the quality of life and the condition of your smile. Washington, DC dentist Dr. Justin Deckard offers a full range of restorative dental treatments for patients suffering from TMJ disorder.
What Causes TMJ Disorder?
TMJ disorder does not have one singular cause. There may be a variety of factors that lead to stress or dysfunction in the temporomandibular joint. Most patients who develop TMJ disorder experience some form of malocclusion, misaligned or crooked teeth, or orthodontic concerns. When constant stress and trauma compromise the jaw joint, it becomes increasingly difficult to eat, chew, and speak without pain or discomfort.
Common Signs & Symptoms of TMJ Disorder
- Earaches or ringing in the ears
- Neck, face, and jaw pain or tension
- Persistent headaches
- Popping or clicking of the jaw
- Bruxism (teeth grinding)
- Numbness in the face or hands
- Chipped or damaged teeth
Treatment Options For TMJ Disorder
Dr. Deckard understands no two smiles are alike. He works with patients one on one to fully understand their needs. He will build a custom treatment plan that will meet their needs. A treatment plan for TMJ disorder will address the cause of TMJ disorder and prevent further damage to the teeth, joints, and muscles. Treatment will vary from patient to patient.
Treatment For TMJ
- Oral sleep appliance: An oral sleep appliance is a custom-designed device that helps to realign the jaw during sleep. An oral sleep appliance will prevent the teeth from grinding and clenching, therefore minimizing damage to the surrounding joints, muscles, and teeth.
- Invisalign: Invisalign is a set of clear, removable aligners that gradually reposition the teeth. Your dentist may use Invisalign to treat crooked teeth and alleviate symptoms of TMJ disorder.
- Lifestyle Changes: Dr. Deckard will discuss specific lifestyle changes that may reduce stress and prevent jaw grinding and clenching.
TMJ Treatment FAQs
Is TMJ treatment expensive?
No. As you can see from the list above, TMJ treatment is inexpensive and can include common restorative treatments. Depending on the severity of your specific issue, a common TMJ treatment plan can include a combination of restorative and cosmetic dental services.
Will my TMJ go away on its own?
It is not likely, but you can alleviate your symptoms with a few at-home lifestyle changes. Height stress levels are one of the common reasons for a developing TMJ disorder. By managing your stress, you can help alleviate symptoms.
Will TMJ treatment drastically change my smile?
Yes and no. It will have an impact on your smile, but not in a negative way. Some parts of TMJ treatment can include orthodontics and bite alignment correction. They can actually improve many of your dental issues, not just TMJ.
What happens if I do not treat my TMJ disorder?
If a patient does not seek treatment for TMJ, the symptoms may persist and worsen over time. TMJ disorder can lead to chronic pain in the jaw, face, and neck. It may also result in difficulty chewing, speaking, or opening and closing the mouth. In some cases, persistent TMJ can cause damage to the jaw joint, teeth, and surrounding muscles. Furthermore, in more severe cases, it can cause tinnitus or (ringing in the ears) dizziness. Consult a dentist for an evaluation and treatment to prevent complications.
What do dentists and medical professionals consider severe TMJ?
Dentists and medical specialists deem TMJ severe when it interferes with a patient’s routine and dental wellness. A jaw, cheek, neck, or shoulder ache of extreme intensity and persistence may be a symptom of severe TMJ. TMJ pain inhibits jaw movement and makes it challenging to chew and speak. A locked jaw, tinnitus, or chronic headaches occasionally accompany severe TMJ. It’s crucial to seek examination and treatment from a dental expert or healthcare practitioner if you think you may have severe TMJ.
Is TMJ a medical or dental problem?
Medical professionals consider TMJ both a medical and dental problem. Temporomandibular joint disorders involve the jaw joint and surrounding muscles, impacting oral function, such as chewing and speaking. General dentists and oral and maxillofacial specialists often diagnose and treat TMJ issues. On the other hand, medical professionals, like primary care doctors or physical therapists, can help manage the condition. Ultimately, collaborative care between dental and medical professionals ensures the best approach.
Schedule An Appointment
If you are experiencing any symptoms related to TMJ disorder, be sure to contact our Washington, DC dental office. Dr. Deckard can work with you to develop a solution to help alleviate your symptoms and restore function to your smile. To schedule an appointment, call (202) 851-7554 or request an appointment online.