Frequent headaches, neck and jaw pain, worn teeth, and a clicking or popping jaw can all be signs of a temporomandibular disorder or TMD- often referred to as TMJ. For many patients, an untreated bite disorder can adversely affect their daily quality of life.
Dr. Doyle Freano has extensive training in the diagnosis and treatment of bite disorders such as TMJ in his Lexington, KY office. He can help patients achieve results that will not only relieve symptoms but restore dental health.
What are TMJ Disorders?
The TMJ, or the temporomandibular joint, is a small joint located in front of your ears, responsible for the opening and closing of the mouth. TMJ is also commonly used to describe a temporomandibular disorder (TMD) in which the jaw joints or teeth do not fit together properly, resulting in an imbalance in the bite. In almost all cases, a TMJ disorder will cause tooth wear and may contribute to tooth decay or gum disease.
Common Causes of TMJ Disorder
There is no single cause for TMJ dysfunction. Any number of factors or combination of factors may be to blame including:
- Trauma to the head, neck, or face
- Trauma to the TMJ joint or arthritis
- Hormonal changes or imbalances
- Malocclusion (where the jaws do not line up correctly resulting in bite problems)
Common TMJ symptoms include:
- Teeth grinding or clenching, often characterized by tooth wear
- Neck and shoulder pain
- Limited mobility in the jaw
- Clicking or popping when opening or closing jaw
As with the causes, symptoms of TMJ disorder vary greatly between patients. TMJ symptoms often mask themselves or are similar to those of other medical conditions, making diagnosis difficult.
TMJ Treatment Options in Lexington, KY
There are multiple options for patients with TMJ disorders:
Mouthguards and Splint Therapy
Dr. Freano may recommend the use of a mouthguard or dental splint to alleviate specific symptoms of TMJ disorder. A mouthguard or splint is often the first step, used early in treatment and not needed as a long-term solution. A dental split can be helpful to help identify a comfortable and stable bite position.
Bite Correction Therapy
When appropriate, Dr. Freano will perform occlusal equilibration – or bite correction, to bring your teeth into proper contact. This will allow the jaw to open and close in its proper position and eliminate stress on the joints and resulting pain.
This process is a series of adjustments made to the teeth which may include:
- Removing tooth structure
- Applying dental crowns or porcelain veneers
- Orthodontic treatment
- Implant dentistry
If the teeth are not in the proper position, orthodontics may be needed to reposition the teeth, allowing them to fit together harmoniously. For adults who wish to avoid traditional metal braces, Dr. Freano offers Invisalign braces for more discreet and comfortable treatment.
In cases where teeth have been significantly worn and damaged restorative dentistry may be needed to bring the teeth back to their proper health and beauty. Dr. Freano may use dental crowns, porcelain veneers, or cosmetic bonding to restore teeth.
TMJ Treatment Video Testimonials
Temporomandibular Disorder FAQs
Discover more about TMJ disorders here:
What can you do at home for TMJ disorder?
There are ways you can temporarily alleviate TMJ pain before visiting the dentist. Apply an ice pack to your cheek for a couple of minutes. Take anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen to relieve swelling and pain. Avoid eating hard foods as well.
What causes TMJ to flare up?
TMJ comes in waves and can flare up based on different behaviors and environments. The main reason flare-ups may occur is due to stress. This is known to lead to clenching of the jaw and teeth grinding. Hormonal changes may cause TMJ symptoms to present themselves as well.
Can TMJ only be present on one side of the jaw?
Most patients have TMJ on only one side of their jaw. Everyone has a temporomandibular joint on either side of their face that is put into use when you open and close your mouth. If you feel pain in this area on either side of your face, you may have TMJ.
Does TMJ change the shape of your face?
TMJ can change the shape of your face. Over time as patients suffer from TMJ pain, they may begin to alter their muscle movement in their mouth to lessen pain in their temporomandibular joint. This altered muscle movement may cause muscles to swell, changing the shape of a patient’s face.
Can an x-ray detect TMJ?
Dentists may use an X-ray to check to see if you may have TMJ. They can typically examine your jaw and its movement to determine if you have TMJ, however, if they cannot tell from this they may use an X-ray to get a deeper look.
Schedule a Dental Appointment
If you have noticed symptoms of TMJ, call Dr. Freano at 859-554-1586 or request a dental consultation on our website.