With advanced training in the field of dentofacial orthopedics, our orthodontist is well versed in temporomandibular joint (TMJ) function and understands the complex relationship of dental bite and jaw development on joint health.
Connecting the jaw to the skull just in front of each ear, temporomandibular joints are complex structures that allow for oral function. These joints are well equipped to handle the normal stress of chewing; however, overuse, inflammation or injury can cause issues.
A risk of developing TMJ problems increases with (among other factors) teeth grinding, clenching or degenerative changes associated with arthritis and other inflammatory musculoskeletal disorders. There are a wide range of uncomfortable and debilitating symptoms associated with TMJ disorders. Examples are: clicking, cracking or popping of the jaw, earaches, ringing in the ears (tinnitus), headaches, facial pain, back and neck pain, and muscle spasms which can lead to jaw locking and limited jaw movement.
The evaluation process for a TMJ disorder, or TMD, begins with our orthodontist reviewing your medical and dental histories. This is followed by a thorough clinical assessment of joint symptoms and function. If needed, you will also undergo special radiographic imaging and other diagnostic tests.
Depending on the diagnosis, treatment may include oral appliances such as nightguards or stabilization splints to alleviate strain on the joints. We may also recommend a bite adjustment or more comprehensive orthodontic care to achieve long-term bite improvement and to facilitate joint recovery and function. To help relieve symptoms, we may also recommend stress reduction methods, relaxation techniques and medications.