TMJ Disorder

TMJ disorder is usually diagnosed when there is pain along with at least 1 other sign or symptom. The pain can be headaches, neck aches, back aches, facial pain. It can appear to be coming from a variety of areas such as the teeth, jaw joint or ear.

 Other signs and symptoms include:

  • Worn or chipped teeth
  • Clicking/popping of the jaw joint
  • Locking of the jaw open or closed
  • The feeling that only one or a few teeth are touching while biting together
  • Difficulty chewing
  • Bruxing/grinding your teeth at night

What causes it? - TMJ disorder can be caused by different things in different people.  There are many contributing factors such as stress, certain medication, arthritis, even possibly occupational requirements that fatigue muscles in the head/neck. In general it is caused by a disharmony between the teeth, muscles of the jaw/head/neck and the shape of the jaw joint itself. In some people it may just be the way the teeth contact that is causing the jaw pain. In others it may be a combination of many factors. In any case, diagnosis is very important and determining the cause helps us determine what our final treatment will be.

What are the treatments? - The primary goal of treatment is to first get you comfortable. Usually this involves some form of splint therapy to help stabilize the jaw joint and restore some function while allowing the muscles to relax. We also do a detailed “occlusal analysis” to get and idea of how your teeth and jaw joint function together and to assess if an equilibration is necessary

Many times TMJ disorder cannot be “cured” but we can alleviate some or all of the symptoms. Occasionally if the primary cause of the TMJ disorder is tooth related, an equilibration or orthodontic therapy may alleviate all the symptoms permanently. When there is a strong muscle component causing the pain we may suggest physical therapy along with the splint therapy. Treatment for TMJ disorder varies widely according to the various causes and is prescribed based on your individual symptoms.

What is a splint? - A splint is a piece of hard plastic material that is worn over the lower teeth and allows the upper teeth to glide on a smooth surface as the jaw makes it movements. It is usually worn at night and in more severe cases may be required to be worn during the day as well until symptoms subside.

Demers Dental
706 DeMers Ave
East Grand Forks, MN 56721