What is TMJ Disorder?

The jaw doesn’t just open and close magically, it has a hinge on either side known as the temporomandibular joint. The TM joint doesn’t just help your mouth open and close, but it connects the lower jaw to the skull. In between the skull and the hinge are small shock-absorbing discs. These disks help keep jaw movements smooth at all times. However, if they move out of alignment, become damaged, or erode in any way, it can cause a TMJ disorder. TMJ disorders also occur when arthritis or forceful impact damages the joint’s cartilage. Since most people don’t know if their jaw joints are misaligned or damaged without visiting a professional, it’s helpful to know which symptoms to watch out for. 

TMJ Symptoms 

Common signs that you might have a TMJ disorder include the following symptoms:

  • Jaw, neck, or back pain
  • Frequent migraines and headaches
  • Clogged and muffled ears
  • Ear pain, ringing (tinnitus) 
  • Popping or clicking in the jaw 
  • Waking up with a headache
  • Lockjaw (jaw stuck open or closed)
  • Numbness or tingling sensation in fingers
  • Neck stiffness
  • Poor posture
  • Excessive tooth wear
  • Limited jaw opening
  • Cracked or chipped teeth
  • Grinding or clenching teeth (bruxism)

If you experience any of the symptoms listed above, please contact our Southlake TMJ dentist to schedule a consultation to receive a TMJ diagnosis.

TMJ Diagnosis

The first step to finding relief from your debilitating TMJ symptoms is receiving an accurate diagnosis. At StarImage Dental Boutique & Oral Surgery, Dr. Green will first go through your medical history to see if you have any conditions that might affect your TM joint. Afterward, he will complete a comprehensive medical exam by touching your jaw and face to identify the current state and position of your muscles and jaw joints.

He will also use advanced dental technology to ensure your diagnosis is as accurate as possible. One of the pieces of technology we utilize in TMJ diagnosis is the BioPak system. The BioPak system allows us to accurately record and measure the sound of your jaw joint. This information is vital to helping us identify what problem is happening inside the jaw joint. We also use electromyography to determine your jaw muscle’s current state of relaxation of retention. Lastly, we use digital jaw tracking to identify irregular patterns in jaw motion that might contribute to TMJ.

In addition to the information gained from the Biopak, we will likely include imaging techniques such as ultrasound, CT scans, MRI, and panoramic x-rays. After we gather all the information, Dr. Green will create a treatment plan custom-made just for you.

TMD Treatment in Southlake

Since no two patients are alike, your treatment will depend on your specific condition. Although all conditions vary, one aspect is true – the sooner you get treatment, the more our non-invasive treatment approach will benefit your condition. 

Once you start recognizing the symptoms of TMJ, we highly encourage you to rest your jaw by eating a soft diet, talking less, not chewing gum, or biting pens. You should also consciously unclench your jaw during the day. You can also ice your jaw and reduce stress in your life to improve TMJ symptoms.

If the home-care approach doesn’t improve your symptoms within a week or the conditions grow worse, we will provide you with a professional treatment plan.

Most treatments include using an oral appliance or bite orthotic to hold your jaw in a correct position for minimal nerve disturbance and optimal muscle comfort. We recommend patients wear this non-invasive treatment all day for an extended period. Eventually, you will only need to wear the appliance while you sleep.

After we help you achieve an optimal jaw position using the bite orthotic, we will discuss restoring your bite with restorations so you no longer need to wear the bite orthotic. Some patients might prefer to just continue wearing the orthotic if they choose.

After wearing the bite orthotic for a few weeks, most patients notice a dramatic improvement in their symptoms. If you would like to finally find relief from your TMJ symptoms, please contact our TMJ dentist in Southlake, TX today at (817) 587-4566 to schedule a consultation.