TMJ Treatment Edison, Metuchen, & South Plainfield, NJ
Temporomandibular Joint Disorders
The temporomandibular joint is the hinge that connects your jaw to the rest of your skull. To talk, chew, or simply yawn, you need the joint to function correctly. When it doesn’t, you have a temporomandibular disorder (TMJ or TMD). Any TMJ is basically a problem with your jaw and the muscles in your face that control it. At Gentle Dental Care in Edison, NJ we specialize in TMJ therapy and treating both TMJ and TMD
TMJ can be mild, activating only when biting into hard pieces of food and shooting pain through the jaw joint. Or it can be severe, such as when simply opening your mouth causes pain. For obvious reasons, TMJ jaw pain can be very debilitating.
At Gentle Dental, we are often the first line in treating TMJ, as patients incorrectly think the pain is a result of a problem with a tooth. Other patients may first seek out an ear nose throat (ENT) specialist as their symptoms lead them to believe they could have an ear infection.
What is TMJ?
Gentle Dental Care’s dental facilities in Edison, NJ are equipped and ready to provide locals with TMJ treatment. Temporomandibular Joint disorders (TMJ or TMD) are a group of conditions that result in jaw pain and that compromise the function of the jaw joint and the muscles that are responsible for jaw movement. In mild cases, biting through hard pieces of food makes the pain shoot through the jaw joint, which can be terribly irritating. For severe TMJ disorders, even eating or talking create so much pain that it becomes debilitating.
What does tMJ treatment do?
TMJ therapies are treatments that seek to eliminate the cause of pain and tightness in the jaw joint. Whenever you have jaw pain caused by the simple function of your temporomandibular joint, this would be considered a temporomandibular disorder. As this joint is critical to everything from talking to eating, jaw pain associated with it can seriously impact your life. Unfortunately, many people don’t bring up their issues with TMJ pain when in our offices, thinking it is not a dental problem.
Who should consider tMJ treatment?
You might consider seeing a dentist check for TMJ disorder if you experience any pain while chewing, if you feel any pain in the jaw, in the neck or face. Also, TMJ therapy might be recommended for a jaw that locks, or if you feel any painful clicking or popping in that area. TMJ disorders are usually caused by pressure caused by too much grinding and clenching of the teeth, dislocation of the disc and soft cushion between the ball and socket, and cases of osteoarthritis in the TMJ.
What types of TMJ treatments are there?
Usually, when TMJ disorders present themselves as pain in the jaw, patients in Edison NJ would consult with their dentist first. But for less obvious symptoms like headaches, ringing in the ear and neck pain, some residents consult with an ENT specialist since they suspect this might be due to an ear infection. There are 2 types of TMJ therapy, surgical and non-surgical treatments.
Most cases of TMJ are treated by non-surgical methods. These treatments do not cure TMJ disorders but just help alleviate the pain to restore normal function. Your dentist might suggest trying out other treatments before resorting to surgical TMJ treatment.
These are some of our TMJ treatments at Gentle Dental Care:
- Using a Bite Splint – We create a custom-fit bite splint. This is a plastic mouth guard that is placed over your upper or lower teeth to make them slide smoothly against each other, instead of clenching. This relieves pressure on the joint and stops the corresponding pain.
- Physical Therapy – We employ methods to help you overcome muscle clenching. This may involve biofeedback and stretching exercises.
- Ultrasound – Deep heat can be applied to the joint.
- Radio Wave Energy – Radio waves stimulate the joint.
- Laser Therapy – Laser energy can lower pain and inflammation, allowing a greater range of motion.
- Medication – Prescribing anti-inflammatory medications helps to reduce the pain, but also to reduce the inflamed muscles that are restricting jaw movement. Other options may be anti-anxiety medications or muscle relaxers.
- Botox – This famous wrinkle reducer works by stopping muscles from contracting. It has proven effective in some TMJ cases.
If these and other options are exhausted, the Gentle Dental team may recommend surgery. There are various procedures that can be performed depending on the severity of your problem. It is important that you consult your dentist so that a personalized treatment plan can be planned for you.
What are the Causes of TMJ?
TMJ/TMD disorders are still somewhat of a mystery to the medical world. Dentists believe most issues arise from muscles that move the joint and from problems with the joint parts. Possible causes are pressure from too much grinding and clenching of the teeth, dislocation of the disc and soft cushion between the ball and socket of the joint, and osteoarthritis in the joint.
What are the Symptoms of TMJ?
Though finding the exact cause of TMJ jaw pain can be challenging, these are some of the common symptoms associated with the condition:
- Problems when you attempt to open your mouth wide
- Pain in your face, jaw joint area, neck, and shoulder, or around your ears when you use your jaw
- Clicking or popping sounds when you open or close your mouth or chew
- Jaws that lock or get stuck when open or closed
- Trouble chewing or an uncomfortable bite, with the feeling that your jaws are misaligned
- Swelling on the side of your face
- A tired feeling on your face
Other symptoms can involve headaches, toothaches, neck aches, dizziness, earaches, hearing issues, upper shoulder pain, and ringing in the ears. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, visit Gentle Dental Care in Edison, NJ to be treated.
Why do I have TMJ?
Why one person develops TMJ and another doesn’t isn’t always easy to ascertain. At Gentle Dental we’ve found that TMJ is often the result of an issue with the patient’s bite. That can then create a cascade of stresses throughout the jaw and the entire face. But you could also have a new source of stress at work or home, leading you to clench and grind your teeth at night. If you had a jaw injury when you were younger, it can be now be showing itself in arthritis of your jaw joint. As we mentioned above, TMJ has an element of mystery to its exact causes in different patients.
Who is at risk for developing TMJ?
There are several factors that can put a person at a greater risk for TMJ:
- Women 18-44 years of age have a higher frequency of TMJ.
- Poor posture in the neck and upper back muscles may lead to neck strain and problems with jaw muscle function.
- Ongoing stress increases muscle tension and jaw clenching.
- Patients with other chronic inflammatory arthritis have increased risk.
- People who have had previous jaw trauma or injury.
What’s the difference between TMJ and TMD?
It comes down to semantics really. TMD actually stands for temporomandibular joint disorder. TMJ stands simply for the temporomandibular joint. You see both TMJ and TMD used to describe the disorder. For some reason, TMJ became the more-used acronym.
Is sleep apnea related to TMJ?
Research is ongoing on the potential link between sleep apnea and temporomandibular joint disorder. When a person has sleep apnea, the airflow in the back of the throat becomes blocked and the brain senses the problem and wakes the person up. This can happen dozens of times every night.
So, how does this relate to TMJ? Jaw pain is a common indication of sleep apnea. Recent studies have shown that when the throat begins to relax before an apnea episode the jaw reflexively clamps down to prevent the airway from becoming blocked. Over the course of the night, this places excessive stress on the jaw, mouth, neck, and shoulders, telltale signs of TMJ.
Also, improper jaw position, where the lower jaw can be positioned a little too far back can contribute to the airway blockage of sleep apnea.
Can TMJ cause tinnitus?
Although this connection is relatively new, it’s thought there are three possibilities on how TMJ may cause tinnitus, which is the perception of noise or ringing in the ears. The chewing muscles are near some of the muscles that connect into the middle ear, so they can have an effect on hearing and possibly tinnitus. Second, there can be a connection between the ligaments that attach to the jaw and one of the hearing bones in the middle ear. Third, the nerves affected by TMJ have connections with parts of the brain that are involved with hearing and the interpretation of sound.
Bottom line? Since the temporomandibular joint is located on each side of your head right in front of your ears, the proximity makes people assume there may be a connection.
What happens if I don’t treat my TMJ?
Many people think they should buck up and work through their TMJ without professional treatment. They sometimes believe their TMD is simply the result of a phase in life, such as a stressful situation at work. If the stressors are removed, a person’s TMD may resolve itself. But if the jaw is out of alignment, the condition needs treatment. Correction may be as simple as creating a custom nightguard to wear while sleeping to stop teeth grinding and clenching, or treatment may be much more involved. Every case is unique. In extreme cases, surgery could be necessary.
How does TMJ affect my ability to open my mouth normally?
TMJ can have different causes, such as stress. But when the jaw is out of proper alignment it can cause serious issues with the simple act of opening and closing your mouth. Every time you open and close your mouth to chew or talk the temporomandibular joint moves. When it twists or otherwise moves unnaturally this can lead to various problems. An obvious symptom is clicking or popping noises when you open your mouth. This is the joint working inefficiently. Jaw pain when chewing, biting, or yawning can also be an effect of improper joint alignment. In extreme situations, a person’s jaws can actually get “stuck” or “lock” in either closed or open positions.
What is the Cost of Treating TMJ?
There is no set cost for TMJ treatment because every case is different. Solutions such as molding a bite splint are inexpensive. Physical therapy costs depend on a patient’s insurance. Medications are the same. Obviously, surgery, if necessary, is the most costly treatment option. The team at Gentle Dental will discuss your TMJ treatment options and their corresponding costs with you.
Contact Gentle Dental Care today or visit us in Edison, New Jersey to begin and learn more about your jaw pain and TMJ treatment options. We are proud to serve patients in Piscataway Township, New Brunswick, Metuchen, and Woodbridge Township NJ and surrounding areas.