TMJ Disorder Treatment Targeting the Underlying Causes

In recent decades, health care professionals have become increasingly aware of TMJ Disorder (TMD). This is a common condition that affects millions of Americans each year. Your temporomandibular joints, or TMJs, are the joints that control jaw movement. Due to their near-constant use, these joints and the surrounding muscles are prone to damage and inflammation. This can cause many different symptoms, ranging from mild facial pain to impaired hearing. Jacksonville dentist Dr. Lysandro Tapnio provides comprehensive TMJ Disorder treatment. He will not simply alleviate your symptoms. He will diagnose and address the fundamental causes of your condition. Thanks to his meticulous care, you could enjoy dramatic and lasting relief.

TMD Symptoms

Just as there are many different reasons for TMD, there are also a number of resulting symptoms. You may suffer from one or many of these problems, and they can range from mild to severe. Common symptoms of TMD include:

  • Facial pain and tender muscles
  • A stiff jaw or one that will not open all the way
  • Ringing in your ears
  • A popping noise when opening or closing your jaw
  • Pain or difficulty chewing
  • Head and neck pain

What Causes TMJ Disorder?

There are several causes of TMJ Disorder. All can result in muscle tension and inflammation and lead to pain, ringing in the ears, and masticatory problems. In many cases, this tension will manifest itself as “trigger points,” small knots caused by rigid muscle fibers. Though trigger points are usually quite small, they can cause radiating discomfort over large areas of your body. Constant use is one reason for muscle tension. Stress is another contributing factor. Often, anxiety can cause your muscles to tighten, or it may lead to chronic teeth grinding. In other cases, TMJ Disorder can develop because of dental damage or facial trauma. Very commonly, it is caused by malocclusion. In this case, the teeth do not come together harmoniously, and there is excessive force on certain muscles and teeth. This is usually accompanied by nighttime bruxing. Patients with malocclusion tend to have excessive wear and even cracks in tooth enamel, in addition to tender muscles.

On occasion, TMD can arise because of damage to the joint itself. Physical trauma or a degenerative disorder, such as arthritis, can harm the inner cushioning disc. It may start to wear away, or it could slip out of place. Then your joint will grate against itself each time you open or close your mouth. Years of chewing with malocclusion, stress grinding, and/or nighttime bruxing can prematurely age the jaw joints.

Non-Invasive Mouth Guards

Mouth guards, or occlusal splints, are one of the most common and conservative treatments for TMJ Disorder. Dr. Tapnio will take impressions of your teeth so that the lab can create a comfortable custom appliance that fits over your teeth and relaxes the TMD muscles while protecting your teeth from grinding and bruxing. Typically, you will only need to wear your splint at night. While you sleep, the device will realign your jaw, often by pushing your lower dental arch forward. This will alleviate pressure on your TMJs, allowing the surrounding muscles to heal.

Trigger Point Therapy for All-Natural Relief

Trigger point therapy is another non-invasive option that can have dramatic benefits. With this treatment, Dr. Tapnio will teach you special massages that you can do at home. With repetition, these massages can release trigger points and provide relief from tension. Most often, trigger point therapy will focus on the masseter, which controls jaw movement. If needed, however, Dr. Tapnio can teach you massages for other areas, such as your soft palate. Though simple and easy to perform at home, trigger point techniques are very precise. Therefore, you should learn from an experienced medical professional like Dr. Tapnio.

Orthodontic Treatment to Improve Your Overall Alignment

TMJ Disorder can sometimes be the result of dental misalignment. Overbites, underbites, and related forms of malocclusion can cause uneven pressure on your teeth. One area of your dental arch might face tremendous daily pressure, while another area might not come under any force at all. Orthodontics are typically the most effective way to correct this problem. Dr. Tapnio can affix traditional braces to your teeth, connecting them with a wire. By calibrating the exact force needed for the wire, he can realign your teeth, reduce the pressure on your jaw, and relieve the symptoms of TMD.

Restorative Dentistry to Enhance the Force of Your Bite

Like dental misalignment, missing or worn teeth can put uneven force on your teeth. The healthy teeth will bear the brunt of your bite, causing significant tension in your jaw muscles. Crowns are one of the most effective ways to correct bite imbalance caused by worn teeth. Dr. Tapnio will place these tooth-shaped restorations all the way over your eroded teeth. The crowns will build them up and restore their complete function. Crowns can also hold up dental bridges or top dental implants. By replacing missing teeth, Dr. Tapnio can alleviate the force on your surrounding teeth and reduce the pressure on your jaw.

Learn More about You TMD Treatment Options

TMJ Disorder can cause significant, widespread discomfort. Contact us today to learn more about your treatment options and find out which one may be most appropriate for you.

For a textbook definition on TMJ disorder, read this artcle.