Fast Trax Orthodontics

TMJ Therapy

TMJ Treatment

The temperomandibular joint(TMJ) is a joint next to each ear. The diseases which affect the TM Joints are no different, really, than the diseases which affect other joints in the human anatomy such as knees and knuckles. Rheumatoid, and Osteoarthritis; Inflammation of the Joint capsule; inflammation of the Synovium; torn ligaments; perforation, or tears in the Articular Disks; internal derangement of the Condyle Head, and or Disk, in the Joint space, and etc.

There are two basic types of treatment for TM Joint disorders: surgical and non-surgical, but it is generally agreed that in most cases the non-surgical approach should be taken first in an effort to restore comfort, and improve jaw function to an acceptable level.
TMJ function is not well understood by modern medicine. Therefore, patients with TMJ Dysfunction are often given drugs, referred for psychological counseling and/or told they might grow out of the problem or have to learn to live with it. Interestingly, conservative non-surgical dental TMJ treatment is very effective in helping those with TMJ problems ranging from severe headaches to ear problems.

What makes the TMJ different from other joints is the relationship the jaw has with teeth. Teeth out of alignment can be a bumpy road for the TM joint. The TM joint must act as a shock absorber. Often there is a fight between the chewing muscles and the misaligned teeth as to where the lower jaw should rest against the skull. Through the use of splints and orthodontics a harmony is created between these muscles and the teeth creating an atmosphere where the joint can heal and function with less pain. We do only non surgical treatment in our office.

Treatment usually starts with a lower appliance called a Gelb to reposition your lower jaw and establish a new bite. This takes your teeth out of your pathologic bite equation. Three weeks of Gelb treatment lets the chronic joint inflammation begin to heal. If a reduction in symptoms occurs, then orthodontic therapy is started. The goal of the orthodontics is to match the new Gelb bite to the bite in your mouth.

TMJ Symptoms

  • Pain in the facial muscles and jaw joints may radiate to the neck or shoulders. Joints may be overstretched. You may experience muscle spasms from TMJ. You may feel pain every time you talk, chew, or yawn. Pain usually appears in the joint itself, in front of the ear, but it may move elsewhere in the skull, face, or jaw.
  • TMJ may cause ear pain, ringing in the ears (tinnitus), and hearing loss. Sometimes people mistake TMJ pain for an ear problem, such as an ear infection, when the ear is not the problem at all.
  • When the joints move, you may hear sounds, such as clicking, grating, and/or popping. Others may also be able to hear the sounds. Clicking and popping are common. This means the disc may be in an abnormal position. Sometimes no treatment is needed if the sounds give you no pain.
  • Your face and mouth may swell on the affected side.
  • The jaw may lock wide open (then it is dislocated), or it may not open fully at all. Also, upon opening, the lower jaw may deviate to one side. You may find yourself favoring one painful side or the other by opening your jaw awkwardly. These changes could be sudden. Your teeth may not fit properly together, and your bite may feel odd.
  • You may have trouble swallowing because of the muscle spasms.
  • Headache and dizziness may be caused by TMJ. You may feel nauseous or vomit.
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