Diagnosis & Treatment
A TMD can be caused by a wide variety of factors, including daily stress, teeth grinding, a crooked bite, injury, and arthritis. So, the first step to providing the appropriate treatment is to determine what exactly is going wrong within the joint. To figure this out, we can test the mobility of the jaw, take X-rays, and even create a 3D model of the head and bite with our CBCT scanner. This helps us identify exactly what a patient needs so we can make their pain go away and stay away.
Equilibration/ Occlusal Adjustments
For one reason or another (missing teeth, incorrectly sized dental restorations), the bite can sometimes be off-balance, which can place excess pressure on the TMJ that leads to muscle tension and pain that’s felt throughout the jaw, head, and neck. We can find these points of too little or too-much contact within the bite and then adjust the teeth so that they come together correctly, which should make any TMD symptoms quickly dissipate.
An occlusal splint is a small oral appliance worn only to bed that slightly adjusts the jaw into a more relaxed and natural position. This takes the pressure off of aching jaw muscles and enables the area to heal on its own. The device also prevents one of the leading causes of TMD—nighttime teeth grinding. After a few weeks or months of consistent use, a patient should be able to wake up in the morning pain-free and not experience any discomfort throughout the day.
Treatment with TENS Machine
The TENS machine is great for providing immediate relief for TMJ as well as stimulating the healing process. Small electrodes are placed near the joint, and tiny micro-pulses of electricity are sent into the muscles. This increases blood flow to the area, which washes out inflammatory factors and enables built-up tension to be released. It’s an effective way to stop TMJ pain while our team is addressing the underlying cause.
A few strategically placed injections of Botox can make TMJ pain go away for several months. The compound paralyzes overactive jaw muscles that lead to strain and teeth grinding during sleep. It can help with frequent headaches as well, as these are often the result of an unconsciously clenched jaw. This approach has been shown to help a patient sleep better and enjoy easier mornings, which can drastically improve their day-to-day life.