What is TMJ disorder?
TMJ disorder, also known as temporomandibular joint syndrome, affects millions of people across America. In fact, about 12 percent of the population has TMJ. Some common symptoms of a TMJ disorder include:
- Pain in the jaw joint
- Facial pain
- Difficulty chewing and swallowing
- Popping, clicking or grinding sounds when opening the mouth
- A jaw that locks
- Buzzing or ringing in the ears
- Tension and pain in the neck and shoulders
- Limited range of motion in the jaw
- Tingling sensation in the arms
TMJ and bite problems
TMJ disorders often include bite problems (malocclusion). The way that your upper and lower teeth fit and function together is called “occlusion.” When malocclusion occurs, it means that the teeth no longer function properly when biting. This may lead to sensitivity, soreness in the jaw, broken fillings and excessively worn teeth. You may also find that your teeth have shifted out of place and are misaligned, crooked or have gaps between them. When diagnosing TMJ disorders, one of the first issues that Dr. Dougherty and Dr. Szotko evaluate is the condition of your bite.
The first step in La Jolla, California, TMJ treatment is a full examination and evaluation of your mouth and jaw. Our dentists employ many different tests, including physical observation of your jaw motion, CT scans and X-rays. Once the problem has been diagnosed, Dr. Dougherty and Dr. Szotko can develop a treatment plan to resolve your condition and restore your oral function and quality of life.
Treatments offered at Dougherty Dental include:
- TMJ splints – Also known as occlusal splints, these are manufactured from a hard acrylic and are custom-made to fit over the surfaces of the teeth. This treatment works to correct the bite and contact between your upper and lower dental arches. The splint also protects your teeth from further damage and encourages normal muscle function. This splint may be worn during the day or at night.
- Bite adjustment – Bite adjustment may be provided in a variety of ways. In many cases a custom night guard is effective for adjusting your bite and protecting your teeth. Some patients may require a treatment that alters certain tooth surfaces to ensure that the teeth fit together properly. In more extreme cases, bite adjustment may require surgery.
- Implants – Lost and damaged teeth frequently impact the function of the other teeth, causing changes in your bite. TMJ is often caused by the loss of one or more teeth. This issue can be resolved with an implant, which replaces both the root and crown of a missing tooth to restore healthy oral function including the function of the bite and jaw.
- Surgical treatment – In some cases, TMJ may require surgery to be corrected. At Dougherty Dental, we typically recommend surgery when more conservative treatments will not resolve the problem, and we always seek the least invasive option. There are several types of surgery that may be effective, and we will work with you to find the procedure that will be most beneficial to you.
Treating TMJ as early as possible
If you have a TMJ disorder, it is extremely important that you receive treatment as early as possible. Without TMJ treatment, your bite problems are likely to cause significant damage to your teeth and lead to a number of other dental and oral problems. We invite you to visit our dental office in La Jolla, California, and find out more about TMJ treatment. We are committed to your oral health, smile and comfort.
TMJ disorder resolution at Dougherty Dental
Dr. Paul E. Dougherty and Dr. Scott O. Szotko have many years of experience in serving the greater San Diego area and helping our patients enjoy healthy, beautiful smiles and good oral health. Our practice is built on a foundation of personal attention and care, use of the most advanced dental techniques, and a dedication to the highest quality of care possible. If you believe you may have a TMJ disorder, please contact our office at 858-454-2656 and make your appointment.