Top 4 Reasons To Seek TMJ Treatment from a Dentist

Top 4 Reasons To Seek TMJ Treatment from a Dentist

If you’re suffering from TMJ pain (also known as jaw pain),you should visit a dentist. Dentists are medical professionals with advanced training in the anatomy of the jaw and the diagnosis of bite dysfunction. They do more than just fix your teeth. 

To understand why a dentist is the best solution to help treat your TMJ/TMD, we will start by understanding the condition and how it often presents itself.

What is TMJ?

The jaw muscles and joints that allow you to open and close your mouth are known as the temporomandibular joints, or TMJ. Your TMJ, which is situated on either side of the skull, is made up of the jaw bone, muscles, and ligaments. These all cooperate to help you when you eat, speak, or swallow. Additionally, they regulate the mandible’s side to side, forward, and backward movement.

Between the ball and socket in each TMJ lies a disc. The disc allows the jaw to open widely and spin or glide while cushioning the stress. A painful TMJ dysfunction may be the result of any issue that compromises the functionality of this intricate system of muscles, ligaments, discs, 

and bones.

What is TMD?

Woman with TMJ Pain
Woman holding her jaw in pain

As mentioned before, your TMJ is the hinge that connects your jaw to the temporal bones of your skull. This joint is vital and used throughout our daily lives, allowing us to chew, talk, and even breathe heavily. When problems arise with the TMJ and the corresponding muscles and teeth, this is known as temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD).

What can Cause TMD?

TMD can come about for several reasons but the most common is subconscious clenching or grinding of the teeth. This usually occurs during sleep or when under high amounts of stress. Patients with this type of TMD may find that their symptoms vary depending on their level of stress.

Other causes of TMD can include:

  • Jaw joint disc out of place
  • Osteoarthritis damage to joint
  • Swelling inside the joint
  • Poor posture muscle strain
  • Joint inflammation or strain

TMD is a common condition that affects millions of people. According to the Oral Facial Reconstruction and Implant Center, 1 in every 12 people in the United States is currently affected by a TMJ disorder.

Symptoms:

It is important to know that sounds (such as clicking or popping) without pain in the TMJs are common, are considered normal, and don’t need treatment.

However, the following symptoms may signal a TMD:

  • Pain in the chewing muscles and/or jaw joint (most common symptom).
  • Pain that spreads to the face or neck.
  • Jaw stiffness.
  • Limited movement or locking of the jaw.
  • Painful clicking, popping, or grating in the jaw joint when opening or closing the mouth.
  • Ringing in the ears, hearing loss, or dizziness.
  • A change in the way the upper and lower teeth fit together.

Why choose a dentist for TMJ treatment?

When it comes to treatment, many physicians and even dentists will either opt to treat the symptoms or rely on surgery to fix the misaligned jaw. However, with advances in neuromuscular dentistry, skilled dentists now have the ability to treat the source that is causing TMJ symptoms.

1. A dentist will find the Root Cause 

TMJ pain is complex.

A knowledgeable dentist can help you identify the underlying factors causing your condition and any symptoms that may be brought on by jaw misalignment. This is usually done through detailed exams, x-rays and scans.

Dr. Safavi favors this approach and uses it to work with each and every patient to pinpoint and treat the cause of their TMJ pain or symptoms. She also uses advanced technologies like the Myoaligner to examine your jaw and determine where your ideal bite is.

The use of a neuromuscular orthotic will help your dentist adjust your bite to the new ideal position. This ensures that the jaw bone and joints are in proper alignment which means proper balance and total relaxation for the TMJ.

2. A dentist will help provide effective pain relief

Dentists can help reduce the pain from your TMJ through TENS therapy, which stands for transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation. This is a type of electrical stimulation that uses electrodes placed on your skin to send signals to your brain through your nerves. 

TENS therapy has been shown to be effective at treating chronic pain conditions like migraine headaches and fibromyalgia. It also works well for treating TMJ disorders, which affect 12% of Americans.

TENS therapy works by sending an electronic pulse across two electrodes placed on either side of your jaw muscle, which causes it to contract and relax several times per minute over several hours or overnight. This helps relieve pain by increasing blood flow to the area, reducing inflammation and promoting healing. 

3. A dentist will use non invasive techniques

Treatment with a dentist is different from other therapies because they use non-invasive methods that don’t involve surgery or medication. 

 The following are some popular methods for treating TMJ pain:

  • Jaw splints — A splint is worn at night to straighten your teeth and lessen the likelihood of nighttime grinding. Additionally, it helps facial muscles that have a tendency to misalign when you sleep.
  • Accelerated repositioning orthodontics –This process uses braces to free up areas between teeth that have locked together as a result of muscle strain from clenching or grinding teeth while sleeping.
  • Orthopedic therapy is a sort of treatment that focuses on regaining the strength of face and head muscles that have weakened due to teeth grinding or clenching as you sleep.
  • Oral appliances – Patients wear these things on their upper or lower front teeth to make space between them so they can

4. A dentist provides less expensive treatment options

TMJ treatment with a dentist is less expensive than other options.  For example, if you are experiencing TMJ pain or have been diagnosed with TMD, you may be tempted to purchase over-the-counter medications or treatments. However, these options can actually be more expensive in the long run and do not always provide relief.

When you have a dental treatment plan, it is customized to meet your specific needs, symptoms and concerns, thus increasing your chances of pain relief  

In addition you’ll pay less for care if you have dental insurance. The price of reducing your symptoms is less than you would anticipate. If you locate a dentist that accepts payment plans (like Aligned Healing), even out-of-pocket expenses will be easier to handle.

Conclusion

A dentist who specializes in TMJ treatment can offer more comprehensive treatment that includes non-surgical interventions and oral appliances if necessary.

If you’re suffering from jaw pain or other symptoms of TMJ disorder, we would be happy to help. Dr. Safavi is highly proficient in the complexities of oral & facial pain. She can help you get an accurate diagnosis of your condition as a starting point for effective TMJ/TMD treatment. 

To learn how we can help you, please call (303) 226-6265 to schedule an appointment

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