Temporomandibular Disorder (TMD)

Millions of Americans suffer from chronic facial and neck pain as well as recurring headaches.  Americans spend over $17 billion a year on medications that only mask the symptoms temporarily.  Surprising, over 80% of headaches are caused by Temporomandibular Disorder, or TMD and go undiagnosed.

Your temporomandibular joints (TMJ) connect your lower jawbone to your skull.  These joints get a lot of use throughout the day as you speak, chew, swallow and yawn.

TMD is a degenerative disease that can severely affect the quality of your life.  Treatment of TMD can be completed easily and effectively with the correct diagnosis and treatment.  Many of my patients have told me it totally transformed their lives

Medications can cause a host of oral problems, one of which is bruxism.  Most cases of bruxism are caused by a combination of stress and a bite being off.  This person will brux most of the time, but stress will cause an exponential increase in bruxing.  Some medical conditions, such as Downs Syndrome are also causes of bruxism.

Clinical signs of bruxism are numerous and easily seen and should be routinely screened for.  During an exam, I look for abnormal wear patterns, teeth that are unusually sensitive or sore, notches on the teeth at the gum line, loose teeth and fracturing of the teeth.

The diagnosis and appropriate treatment of this condition is imperative to prevent tooth loss and gum recession, as well as in many prolonged cases, temporomandibular joint (jaw joint) disorders. 

Most people are unaware of their condition.  They attribute their symptoms, which can include the following, to other conditions.

  • Pain in the jaw area
  • Pain, ringing, or stuffiness in the ears
  • Frequent headaches or neck aches
  • Clicking or popping sound when the jaw moves
  • Swelling on the sides of the face
  • Muscle spasms in the jaw area
  • A change in the alignment of top and bottom teeth
  • Locked jaw or limited opening of the mouth

A lot of patients discover that they grind their teeth when a loved one tells them that they heard them doing it during the night.  The sound can be quite loud and painful sounding.

Depending on the cause and severity of the bruxism, treatment can be multifactorial.  In cases where a patient’s bite is off, many times we are able to greatly reduce or eliminate the condition with equilibration (very small amounts of tooth removed to stabilize and equalize the bite.)  More severe or multifactorial cases can be treated with a bite guard (device worn at night to protect teeth), orthodontic treatment or reconstruction with crowns.

Uniquely trained and equipped with state of the art technology to quickly examine and diagnose force related symptoms.  I use modern, proven methods to identify issues often missed by other practitioners.

There are a few simple steps you can take at home or work to prevent TMD from becoming more severe, or to prevent it from occurring:

  • Relax your face — remember the rule: "Lips together, teeth apart"
  • Avoid grinding your teeth
  • Avoid constant gum chewing
  • Don't cradle the phone receiver between your head and shoulder — either use a headset or hold the receiver in your hand
  • Chew food evenly on both sides of your mouth
  • Do not sit with your chin rested on your hand
  • Practice good posture — keep your head up, back straight, and shoulders squared