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 daily quality of life.
Dr. Doyle Freano has extensive training in the diagnosis and treatment of bite disorders such as TMJ and can help patients achieve results that will not only relieve symptoms but address overall dental health.
As a Dawson trained dentist, Lexington KY dentist Dr. Freano applies the principles of complete dentistry, taking a comprehensive approach to evaluating a patient’s bite. Complete dentistry goes beyond treating the symptoms of a bite disorder and seeks to identify and treat the underlying cause to restore balance to the bite.
What is TMJ
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 and/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
Mouthguard 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 a 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 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 (TMJ/TMD) FAQs
What happens if TMJ is not treated?
Left untreated, TMJ disorders can cause more jaw pain, frequent headaches, teeth grinding, insomnia, and even tooth loss. TMJ treatment with Dr. Freano is swift and provides accurate results.
Is TMJ a dental problem?
Yes. Since this issue directly affects your teeth and jaw alignment, you should see a dentist about TMJ and TMD issues.
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.
Can you die from TMJ?
Only in very severe situations is death a likely scenario. It is very rare for someone to die from TMJ alone.
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.
Is TMJ only present on one side?
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. Overtime 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.