TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorders consist of a varied group of conditions that involve the muscles, TM joints and the teeth. Symptoms can include severe or mild headaches, sensitive or broken teeth, or ear and joint pain. These symptoms are often misdiagnosed by patients as “tension headaches”, migraines, sinus problems, or ear infections. Many patients do not know that these symptoms could have anything to do with their mouth. Dr. Baldone and his team have taken a genuine interest in helping patients with these conditions for many years. They have considerable experience in recognizing the varied presentations of TMJ disorders, an are confident that they can help most patients find relief.
Trouble With Your Jaw?
TMJ disorders develop most commonly in patients in the “middle years” of life, generally from about 18 to 60 years old. One common cause is para-functional bruxism, or teeth clenching at some time during the day, and/or during sleep. Sometimes, but not always, it is related to a poor bite or malocclusion. Emotional stress, rheumatological conditions, and poor sleep patterns can also be factors.
Do You Have a TMJ Disorder?
- Are you aware of grinding or clenching your teeth?
- Do you wake up with sore, stiff muscles around your jaws?
- Do you have frequent headaches or neck aches?
- Does the pain get worse when you clench your teeth?
- Does stress make your clenching and pain worse?
- Does your jaw click, pop, grate, catch, or lock when you open your mouth?
- Is it difficult or painful to open your mouth, eat, or yawn?
- Have you ever injured your neck, head, or jaws?
- Have you had problems (such as arthritis) with other joints?
- Do you have teeth that no longer touch when you bite?
- Do your teeth meet differently from time to time?
- Is it hard to use your front teeth to bite or tear food?
- Are your teeth sensitive, loose, broken or worn?
The more times you answered “yes”, the more likely it is that you have a TMJ disorder. Understanding TMJ disorders will also help you understand how they are treated.
There are various treatment options that Dr. Baldone and his associate doctors can utilize to improve the harmony and function of your jaw. Once an evaluation confirms a diagnosis of TMJ disorder, Dr. Baldone and his associate doctors will determine the proper course of treatment. It is important to note that treatment always works best with a team approach of self-care combined with professional care.
One of our primary treatment tools is a TMJ splint. This is not simply a mouthguard. It is a precisely fabricated removable appliance that will treat TMJ disorders in three ways. First, it will position the lower jaw in a way that relieves stress on the muscles and joints, primarily at night. Secondly, it reduces the actual amount of clenching that occurs, by taking advantage of the body’s own inhibitory mechanism. And lastly, it protects the teeth from wear and erosion, and reduces the pain that these would cause. We also utilize education and exercises, to help the patient reduce symptoms during the day. Sometimes we involve other specialists that have expertise in TMJ disorders, when we feel that they may be able to help in specific cases. These may include Physicians, Oral Surgeons, Physical Therapists, and Stress Management counselors.