“TMJ” stands for temporomandibular joint. The TMJs are the small joints in front of each ear that attach the lower jaw to the skull. They allow you to perform such functions as opening and closing your mouth, chewing, speaking and swallowing. TMJ problems are manifested by pain in the muscles along with limitations in the ability to execute normal movements. If you suffer from such pain, TMJ treatment with neuromuscular dentistry may be the answer to your problems. Finding your neuromuscular jaw position is the most important step in TMJ treatment and before a final restorative/orthodontic phase is started. This is to prevent muscular imbalances that could lead to instability of the teeth, bone and posture. When the harmony of the teeth, facial muscles, and temporomandibular joints no longer exists, symptoms of what has been identified as TMJ/TMJD (Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction) arise. Some symptoms of TMJ are: Headaches, neck/shoulder aches, jaw pain, sensitive and sore teeth, clenching of the teeth, loose teeth, facial pain, worn down teeth, ear congestion, forward head posturing, clicking/popping in the joints, limited opening of the mouth, tingling in the fingertips, tinitus.
A “bite” is considered to be healthy when all or most of the teeth are present and not destroyed by normal daily usage. It is destructive when teeth show wear, looseness or when TMJ (jaw joint) damage is seen. Orthognathic therapy helps restore a bite that can function without damage and destruction. The therapy may include:
Reshaping the biting surfaces of the teeth and eliminating spots of excessive pressures where the teeth are brought into contact. This is done by carefully spreading bite pressures evenly across all of the teeth.
- Bite splint therapy using a custom-fitted and adjusted plastic bite guard to keep the teeth apart, day, night or both.
- Braces to reposition mal-aligned or drifted teeth.
- Replacement of old, worn out, or damaged fillings.
- Reconstruction of badly worn and damaged teeth.
Bite Guards: Bite guards and mouth guards can help protect your teeth and TMJ (jaw joint) from damage due to clenching and grinding. These guards are important for people that grind while sleeping (bruxism). The habits of clenching and grinding may cause:
- Chipped and worn-down teeth
- Loosened teeth and cracked teeth
- Worsen periodontal disease problems
- Damage to dental bridges and dental implants
An NTI is generally recommended for these conditions because it keeps the molar and canine teeth from touching (thereby minimizing the intensity of muscle contraction) while minimizing the degree of jaw opening.
Temporomandibular disorders all have one perpetuating or causative factor in common: excessive occluding of the teeth. The ideal occlusal splint cannot reduce the intensity of nocturnal clenching, in fact, it allows clenching to exceed voluntary maximum. An anterior midline point stop (as provided by the NTI) has been shown to decrease (suppress) muscle activity, and allow the optimum musculoskeletally stable condylar position. A change of the patient’s occlusal scheme may result.
Snoring: Regular sleep loss takes its toll and seriously reduces the ability to cope with life and work on a day to day basis. Although careful evaluation is necessary, many patients can be helped with a mandibular advancement splint. This has upper and lower parts which are easily placed and generally well tolerated. The appliance gently brings the lower jaw forward and helps to open the patient’s airway, thus leading to cessation of snoring.
What’s involved? Initially, a questionnaire is needed. Following this, the doctor collates the data and discusses the individual requirements. If an advancement splint is appropriate, upper and lower impressions are taken and arrangements made to fit the splint as soon as possible. Regular checkups are recommended after placement of the splint.
If you are suffering from any of these painful symptoms, we can help. Please contact our team today to schedule a consultation.