TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorders are a family of problems related to your jaw joint. If you have had symptoms like pain or a “clicking” sound, you’ll be glad to know that these problems are more easily diagnosed and treated than they were in the past. These symptoms occur when the joints of the jaw and the chewing muscles do not work together correctly. TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint, which is the name for each joint (right and left) that connects your jaw to your skull. Since some types of TMJ problems can lead to more serious conditions, early detection and treatment are important.
No one treatment can resolve TMJ disorders completely and treatment takes time to become effective. Dr. Davis can help you have a healthier, more comfortable life.
Dr. Davis has had special interest for 30 years in the diagnosis and treatment for the individual who is suffering from head, neck and facial pain and/or temporomandibular related disorders (TMJ). We also diagnose and treat disc displacement and inflammatory or degenerative changes that may occur in trauma cases such as whiplash injury from motor vehicle accidents or other accidental injuries. We believe in comprehensive, confidential assessments and treatments for each patient. Jaw joint disorders can painfully manifest themselves throughout the upper body, making accurate diagnosis difficult. Though the condition is often misunderstood, we know the pain is real. Establishing the greatest level of comfort and normal function through our diagnostic and treatment procedure is our goal for each individual patient.
Symptoms of TMJ Dysfunction
Approximately one in eight people suffers from some type of jaw joint pain. Often a patient is unaware of the real problem because the symptoms are diverse and can manifest themselves throughout the head and upper body. Common symptoms include:
- Facial Pain
- Jaw Pain
- Neck aches
- Difficulty in Opening or Closing mouth
- Ringing or Buzzing in Ears
- Eye Pain
- Difficulty Swallowing
- Ear Pain
- Clicking of Jaw Joint
- Pain While Eating
Causes of TMJ Dysfunction
Research has shown that in many cases there may be more than one factor responsible for TMJ pain and dysfunction. Common causes usually fall into one of three categories, each of which needs to be considered for diagnosis.
Common Causes Include:
- Trauma, such as an automobile accident or sport injury
- Improper occlusion (bite)
- Inflammation of the joint
- Osteoarthritis (degenerative)
- Neuromuscular imbalances
- Jaw clenching
- Tooth grinding
- Nervous habits
- Stress at work
Our Diagnostic Procedures
To assess a patient’s condition, determine the cause, and formulate a treatment plan, specific information must be gathered. This is accomplished by using a variety of diagnostic methods which include discussion, examination, and testing.
Discussion and examination take place at the initial consultation when the patient reports time of onset, duration, and intensity of pain in the affected area. The examination explores the pattern of jaw movement to detect sounds and tenderness to gentle pressure.
If further diagnostic testing is indicated, we can attain measurements of dysfunctional muscle activity which can be the primary reason for pain. Visualization of the joint by minimal radiographs allows us to locate joint damage.
Sophisticated Diagnostic Equipment
At Davis Dental Clinic, we use state-of-the-art temporomandibular joint radiographic, visual, sound and computer imaging to offer our patients the most complete diagnosis of TMJ dysfunction. We perform in our clinic the following procedures:
- Doppler Auscultation
- Compact Galileo 3D CT Imaging
Our Diagnostic Radiology Services also include Tomography, one of the most precise procedures for determining true morphologic relationships of the condyles and fossae.
Other TMJ Related Services
We also document TMJ injury that may occur in trauma cases not only for the successful diagnosis of TMJ dysfunction, but also for insurance and medical/legal purposes.
Once a diagnosis of a patient’s condition has been made, two treatment procedures generally occur in Phase1 treatment. First, a wide range of relaxing muscle spasm reduction treatments are performed utilizing iontophresis, ultrasound, and electro galvantic stimulation. Next, an extremely comfortable, easy to wear aesthetic dental orthotic, also referred to as a splint, is manufactured. There are different types of appliances used for different purposes. The orthodic covers either the upper or lower teeth, holding the jaw in proper alignment. This reduces tension in the jaw joint and allows healing to take place. Dr. Davis will determine the type of appliance or appliances that will be necessary after a proper diagnosis. Mild medications may be prescribed when necessary.
After a patient reaches maximum medical improvement following Phase1 treatment another phase or phases of treatment maybe necessary. This could be as simple as night time management with a night time orthodic or it may be as complicated as orthodontics, orthognathic surgery, or dental reconstruction. Sometimes it may includes 1 or more of these advanced procedures.