Understanding TMJ

If you’re reading this, you probably have some of the symptoms that doctors relate to TMJ Dysfunction.

What Does That Mean?

Symptoms of this problem include:

  • Pain in the area in front of the ear/s
  • Headaches – forehead, temple area or back of the head
  • Limited opening of the mouth
  • Muscle pain in the neck and/or upper back
  • And, audible ‘clicking’ when opening or closing the mouth (left, right or both sides)

Many of these symptoms occur when people over-stress the chewing system by grinding, clenching and overusing the chewing muscles. Very frequently those actions are caused by malocclusion, which means (bad bite), so that in normal closure the teeth do not fit together properly. You can think of proper fit of teeth as an upper and lower gear that has teeth and if those gears (teeth) don’t fit properly the machine won’t work! If you’re wristwatch gears don’t fit properly, the watch will never have the right time. If an automobile’s transmission gears don’t fit properly, you’ll either hear a screaming sound or the car won’t move. In the body, we call this TMJ Dysfunction. Most often this is a muscle problem that needs to be resolved.

The reason for over stressing this function is often because of other stresses in your life and life’s stresses need to be considered. It is very important that the dentist who undertakes your treatment has a complete understanding of the psychological as well as physical and orthopedic nature of this problem. A complete and thorough diagnosis to determine the appropriate treatment is imperative.

Treatment may involve:

  • Oral physical therapy
  • An oral orthopedic appliance (to reestablish relaxed muscles)
  • Comfortable electrical stimulation (for muscle relaxation)
  • Acupuncture/Acupressure
  • Pain relieving drugs

My concept of patient treatment is to do as much as is necessary and as little as possible. After 35 years caring for my TMJ patients there is little that I have not seen. If you’d like my advice, please click on the sidebar or call my office at (516) 671-3131 to set up a convenient consultation appointment. Please know that any insurance benefits may come through major medical and usually not dental!