Onalaska, WI TMJ Dentist
TMJ stands for Temporomandibular Joints. There are 2 joints that connect your jaw to your skull and when they are out of place they can cause the following :
- Clicking or popping of the jaw joints
- Cracked teeth
- Pain in or around the jaw joints
- Missing teeth
- Locking and or limited opening
- Severely worn teeth
- Pain around the eyes
- Ear ringing
- Clenching or grinding
- Neck and Shoulder Pain
Muscle spasms go hand in hand with the displaced joint. Because the nerves and muscles are very complex, when they are in spasm in the jaw joint, the problems can extend into other areas of the body. It is for this reason that the symptoms masquerade so many other conditions making people travel from doctor to doctor in search of relief. It is estimated that 45 to 50 million Americans suffer from one or more of the above mentioned symptoms and may never think to seek a neuromuscular dentist like Dr. Jon for help.
What is the cause of TMJ ?
The structures that allow us to open and close our mouth include the muscles, bones and joints. They are very specialized and must work together harmoniously when we chew, speak or swallow. Your teeth are attached to one end of the jaw bone and the TMJ joint is at the other end. The TMJ joint attaches to your skull with muscles that attach to the bones and the joint. This comprises the complex system of teeth, muscles, and bones which must all work together in harmony.
How does TMJ relate to your teeth and your bite?
Sometimes the upper and lower teeth do not come together in a away that provides the necessary support for the jaw against the skull. This may result from a missing tooth of mis-aligned teeth. If your bite is not right, it can affect both the muscles and the joints.
How are the muscles affected ?
Your upper and lower teeth must come together firmly each time you swallow. This happens over 2000 times every day ! When your bite is unstable, your muscles must work harder and this extra work makes them feel shortened and stiff. This continued strain makes the muscles feel painful and you begin to feel tense and uptight. This begins a vicious cycle of pain, muscle tenderness and tissue damage. The worse the muscle spasm, the more tense you become, increasing the muscle spasm and pain.
How can the position of my teeth affect the jaw joint ?
Each jaw joint is like a ball and socket. When this joint functions properly, a thin cartilage disc moves smoothly between the ball and socket. This thin disc acts like a cushion allowing the TMJ joint to move smoothly. Each disc is held in place and guided by a muscle. If your bite is not right, the joint is actually pulled out of alignment and usually the disc is pulled forward. Since the disc is no longer acting like a cushion, the jaw joint itself now rubs against the bony socket. Mild displacement causes pain and eventual permanent damage to the joint.
So an unstable bite can cause jaw joint displacement, muscle strain and pain. When the jaw joint is displaced for an extended time the body begins to compensate and adapt by involving the muscles of the neck, back, and often the arms, pelvis and legs.
What treatment is available with an Onalaska, WI Neuromuscular Dentist ?
Every person has a unique jaw and muscle physiology and treatment varies since it involves the teeth, muscles and jaw joints but usually treatment involves several phases. The immediate primary goal is to relieve the muscle spasm and pain. Secondly, Dr. Jon must correct the way your teeth fit together so a precision appliance ( know as an orthotic) is worn over the teeth until the bite is stabilized.
Since most pain comes from injured or unhealthy muscles, muscle function normalization greatly reduces pain. When the rest position is correctly identified, appliance therapy can rapidly reduce the TMJ symptoms.
When your bite is stable, the teeth, muscles and joints all work together without any strain. The orthotic then becomes the guide for permanent stabilization procedures which can include orthodontics ( braces) or prosthetic dentistry. ( crowns and bridges )