Are you suffering from headaches, facial pain, or jaw pain? Are your teeth sensitive, worn, rough along the edges, or has there been a change in your bite or the fit of your dentures? Do your ears feel full, ring, or do you hear a popping or clicking sound when chewing or speaking? Do you frequently wake with a headache or experience recurring headaches? Answering yes to any of these questions may indicate that you are suffering from TMD and have a TMJ disorder.
Temporomandibular Joint Disorder, commonly called a TMJ disorder or TMD, often starts with an Occlusal Imbalance. The pain may come on slowly or suddenly after an accident or trauma. Atlanta dentist Dr. Brenda Paulen has received extensive training in assessing, detecting, and correcting occlusal issues, sometimes called “occlusal disease”.
In dentistry, we use the term “occlusion” to refer to the bite relationship. More specifically, this means the alignment of the jaw as the teeth come together along with the relationship of the upper and lower teeth. The lower jaw is a “u-shaped” bone with two jaw joints at each end.
When the bite relationship aligns and functions properly, the lower jaw can freely hinge at the joints and close together with the lower teeth. The lower jaw contacts the upper teeth evenly around the arch, without the facial muscles overworking or compensating. This creates a “stable bite” in harmony with the joints and muscles.
When there is a misalignment in the bite relationship to the fully seated joints, then problems can develop.
TMJ Therapy What to Expect
TMD Signs and Systems
Understanding the signs and symptoms of TMD can help you find the appropriate treatment. There is always a dental component to TMJ pain. Alleviating painful symptoms can significantly improve your daily life. If you experience any of these symptoms, contact Proud Smiles for a comprehensive TMJ Treatment analysis. Signs and symptoms of a TMJ disorder include:
Clenching and teeth grinding
Excessively worn teeth
Sore jaw and facial muscles
Stress on the jaw
Head and/or neck pain
Clicking or popping when opening or chewing
Limited movement of the jaw, episodes of “getting stuck”
Shifting teeth, bite changes
Through a unique and gentle examination, Dr. Paulen will assess the mechanics of your bite and recommend various treatment options to relieve whatever stresses are found.
Improper bite alignment and clenching or grinding habits are triggers for recurring episodes of pain. Splint therapy is a general starting point, followed by a detailed evaluation of a patient’s occlusion to determine the source of the problem.
Treating TMJ and Relieving Painful Symptoms
TMJ-related issues are multifactorial. To bring harmony and balance to the bite, TMJ joint, and facial muscles, we may recommend a combination of treatments. Effective treatment may be as simple as getting an “occlusal adjustment,” a restorative procedure to slightly recontour one or more teeth to adjust the balance of the bite.
First, Dr. Paulen will review your overall health history and dental history. Second, she will discuss your symptoms and help you discover other hidden issues. Then, she will recommend treatments based on your unique TMD evaluation. If we determine you have severe TMD problems, we will coordinate care with an ENT, physical therapist, neurologist, or endocrinologist.
In many cases, Dr. Paulen may recommend using a muscle deprogrammer or centric relation splint. We specially fabricate this removable dental device to wear at your leisure. It will help you relax your jaw and relieve nerve and muscle pain, avoiding a possible headache. Dr. Paulen even wears one herself!
In more severe cases, we may involve a full mouth rehabilitation. This process incorporates orthodontic treatment to correct malocclusion and dental restorations for worn, damaged, or missing teeth. The goal of this treatment is to not only relieve symptoms that can affect daily life but to restore comfort, balance, and longevity to the bite and dental health.
If you are suffering from TMJ issues, visit our dental office in Sandy Springs for evaluation and treatment options. Request an appointment online or give us a call at (404) 418-7734 today.
No. Treating TMJ does not require oral surgery or invasive and painful treatments. Most TMJ treatments are non-invasive. The most common TMJ treatment utilizes a nightguard that is comfortable to wear and easy to maintain.
You can take steps to alleviate symptoms at home, but most TMJ issues and disorders can not be effectively managed without medical intervention. Dr. Paulen can effectively diagnose and recommend treatments whether or not they are conducted at our office.
Unfortunately, there is no easy answer. TMJ affects everyone differently. Some patients find relief a couple of days after treatment, while others live full lives with mild TMJ issues. The best way to find out how long it will take for your unique issue to go away is by seeking a diagnosis from your trusted dentist.