This page contains background information about TMJ, but if you would rather talk to someone in person about the condition, please call (803) 781-9090 or email Smile Columbia Dentistry to schedule an appointment at our Columbia, South Carolina office.
What is TMJ Disorder?
Temporomandibular joint disorder, called TMJ or TMD, occurs when there is an imbalance between the teeth, bones, muscles, and nerves that make up your mouth and jaw system.
TMJ can be caused by a trauma to the jaw, or it can be caused by teeth that don’t fit together properly, called malocclusion. Malocclusion can be developmental, or it can be caused by wear or damage to a tooth or teeth. It may even be caused by bad dental work. Once TMJ develops, it tends to worsen with time. Symptoms may appear first in the mouth, but eventually they can spread throughout the body.
Common TMJ Symptoms
Diagnosing TMJ is hard for general doctors and dentists because its symptoms are so variable. They include:
- Headaches and migraines
- Jaw pain
- Limited jaw movement
- Worn or chipped teeth and restorations
- Neck pain
- Upper back pain
- Tinnitus (ringing or roaring in the ears)
- Tingling in extremities
TMJ symptoms spread through your body because your temporomandibular joint is at a very key location. Important nerves and blood vessels that supply the brain run by the joint and can be irritated or restricted by imbalanced muscles. The muscles in your jaw joint also work together with muscles in your head and neck. When your joint muscles are out of balance, it puts stress on these other muscles, leading to tension headaches and poorly aligned vertebrae in your neck. Once your neck is out of balance, it can lead to tension and pinched nerves down the entire length of your spine.
TMJ Treatment (Neuromuscular Dentistry)
The first goal of TMJ treatment is to relieve muscle tension in the jaw. We do this using TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation), a kind of electric massage. This also releases endorphins, which work as natural pain relief.
We will then attempt to diagnose the extent of your TMJ and recommend treatment. Neuromuscular dentistry has developed scientific diagnosis and treatment protocols that result in reliable, long-term relief. Diagnosis involves a combination of computerized jaw tracking, muscle activity measurement, and sonography of the joint to identify the ideal rest position for your jaw.
Depending on the severity of your TMJ, treatments may include regular TENS treatments, an orthotic (similar to an athletic mouthguard) that you wear while you sleep, and dental restorations. In rare cases, surgery of the jaw joint may be necessary to restore optimal function.
Dr. Paul and Dr. Adam Hahn are both trained in neuromuscular dentistry, and all our dental assistants are familiar with its principles so that everyone can work together to ensure you get the best TMJ treatment possible.