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TMJ Dentist and Treatment in Anderson

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the jaw joint.  Often it can be improperly formed or aligned creating a clicking or pain in the jaw. This is known as TMJ disorder.

man smiling with a coffee cup

TMJ Causes and Treatment

Any change in the joint can cause it to shift and create an overbite, underbite or a shift in the jaw creating pain.

Where Is My TMJ?

Feel the jaw joint move by placing a finger in front of the ear and moving your jaw from side to side or opening it. You can also feel this movement by placing a fingertip in the opening of the ear canal.

What Does This Joint Do For Me?

Before birth, the small ear bones, which conduct sound, grow off from the jaw bone and migrate into the ear canal.

So jaw problems can cause ear problems and ear problems can cause TMJ issues. Sometimes it is necessary for the patient to have both an ear and jaw examination. Our dentists in Anderson conduct a comprehensive exam during your consultation.

The facial joints gradually change shape and size throughout a person’s lifetime. Any change can cause the fit of the teeth to shift slightly.

Possible Joint Issues

Teeth not fitting together properly? It may not be a tooth problem or a jaw joint issue (TMJ) instead. Some changes are transient while others are permanent.  Usually not noticeable, these shifts create facial changes.

The skills of a dentist are necessary to manage TMJ disorders – because if teeth do not fit together properly, the jaw joints cannot function normally.

In fact, there are some types of malocclusion like severe overbites which nearly always seem to result in damage to the jaw joints.  Likewise, there are certain combinations of missing jaw teeth, which also seem to result in damage to the jaw joints.

If a person has a diseased or displaced jaw joint and has surgery to correct the defect the surgery will likely fail if the teeth are not stable and properly aligned.

Stress Can Lead to TMJ

Stress of any type affects the jaw generally through grinding or clenching when we get stressed, nervous or upset.

There are so many types of stress from physical activities to emotional stress. Often resolving emotional stress can fix your “clenching,” but often grinding the teeth occurs while sleeping and that is when bite splints solve the issue.

Nerves and TMJ

About one-half of all the nerves of the brain run through the face including sensory, motor and autonomic nerves controlling all of your body’s functions from temperature to subconscious control.

TMJ pain can sometimes be caused by nerve issues beginning from the neck, back, shoulder and can spread to the arm. Therefore, it is sometimes important to have an examination and treatment for neck problems if they contribute.

TMJ Headaches

It is known as “The Great Imposter” because symptoms appear similar to migraines, sinus, ear, eye and neck problems.

Pain generally begins around the ear with stuffiness, buzzing or ringing. May also have a water dripping in the ear sensation. The pain migrates into the temple across the side of the head and down the back of the neck.  In severe cases, the pain radiates behind the eye, causing a deep pressure pain in the retro-orbital region.

Unlike most migraines which are more temporary, TMJ headaches could last several hours or days.

Disc Joint Solutions

The disc, a small cushion in the jaw joint, frequently slides out of place, causing clicking and/or locking at first.  This may not always cause pain.

When the disc gets out of place it usually will go back in place by itself.  This requires jaw re-positioning with appliances called bite splints.

Sometimes surgery is required to put the disc back in place but it can limit movement. Surgery is a last resort for chronic cases.

Age-Based Options

Adult Patients

Disc displacement problems:

  • Re-positioning the disc is problematic if the issue’s existed for years. 80-85% of all cases will reduce pain with a bite splint.
  • Mild muscle relaxant medication may be necessary

General joint issues:

  • Bite splints for TMJ are common
  • Orthodontics could help align the teeth and jaw
  • Depending on tooth condition crowns or bridges may be necessary
Young Patients

Dental appliances are the first step along with orthodontics when age-appropriate. Orthodontics begin no earlier than the age of 6.

Botox for Headaches

Offered by our Anderson dental office.

When you need a complete smile again, give us a call and schedule an appointment. Please contact one of our offices in Anderson, Indiana.