Problems in the jaw system can significantly compromise your quality of life. TMJ pain occurs when there is damage to the TMJ joint, most often caused by trauma, stress, or other injuries. Visit Dr. Huckin for TMJ evaluation and treatment services and comprehensive dentistry in Dallas, TX. Dr. Huckin has been an active member of the American Equilibration Society, the largest society dedicated to studying TMJ disorders.
If you experience any of the following signs, you may be suffering from a TMJ Disorder:
- Chipped or worn-down teeth
- Clicking, popping, locking, and/or soreness just in front of the ear
- Sore jaw muscles
- Bite related problems
- Cervical neck issues
- Ringing in the ears
- Bruxism (teeth clenching and grinding)
- Sinus-like concerns
What Is TMJ?
“TMJ” is the common dentistry term for an issue with the temporomandibular joint of your jaw. This joint connects the skull’s temporal bone and the jaw’s lower mandible to support chewing and speaking. When there is damage to the joint or tension in the muscles surrounding it, patients may experience painful symptoms, including headaches. An experienced restorative dentist in Dallas, Dr. Huckin offers TMJ treatment options for our patients.
A TMJ disorder can be addressed with a variety of different treatment options. To determine which option is best for you, Dr. Huckin will need to evaluate the current condition of your smile and jawbone. The ultimate goal of your treatment is to identify the issue with your jaw and improve your bite pattern so that your mouth muscles are not under additional strain.
TMJ Treatment in Dallas, Texas
Dr. Huckin’s primary TMJ therapy includes splints and retainers of various designs that can correct bad bites, decrease stress at the joint level, and reduce muscle hyperactivity, including clenching and grinding habits.
This may be followed with bite treatment through bite adjustment (equilibration), orthodontics, or restorative dentistry. Dr. Huckin’s approach to providing TMJ relief is very thorough: determining the cause-and-effect relationship is key to identifying the problem and treatment.
Together, we will find the most effective solution for you. During the initial stages of your TMJ treatment, Dr. Huckin will need to provide you with a thorough exam of your jaw structure to determine the current state of your dental health. Most patients with TMJ disorders have a history of teeth grinding.
Patients who grind their teeth usually do so unconsciously, so it can be difficult to diagnose until these painful symptoms arise. That’s why we encourage our patients to see us every six months so Dr. Huckin can continually monitor your dental health for signs of teeth grinding.
Patients experiencing TMJ disorder may present with the following symptoms:
- Jaw pain or soreness
- Pain around the temporomandibular joints.
- Difficulty chewing or speaking
- Popping or clicking noise when chewing or speaking
These symptoms significantly affect our patient’s daily life and can become unbearable over time. However, our treatment options have proven to be very effective. Our common TMJ treatment solution is prescribing a nightguard, which is similar to a mouthguard.
Our night guards are custom-made to fit comfortably and securely in your mouth. Nightguards are only worn at night and help adjust your jaw’s resting position to prevent teeth from grinding and reducing tension over time. For many patients, the nightly use of this oral appliance can greatly reduce their TMJ symptoms.
Additionally, Dr. Huckin may include the following options for TMJ treatment:
- Restorative dentistry: If your teeth are damaged due to teeth grinding, Dr. Huckin can assist you in regaining the look and function of your teeth, gums, and jaw.
- Orthodontics: For more extensive issues with the jaw structure, Dr. Huckin may recommend orthodontic solutions to relieve the TMJ symptoms.
What Causes TMJ?
Many different things can contribute to TMJ disorders. You may have one or any number of factors that work together to make a perfect storm for TMJ.
Habits and Lifestyle Causes
One of the most common causes of TMJ is teeth grinding. Teeth grinding and clenching happen subconsciously, often at night while you’re sleeping. The constant pressure and grinding on your jaw joint cause inflammation, muscle tension, and the breaking down of the joint. The repetitive motion of habitual gum chewing causes the same problems. You overwork the jaw muscles, and things become strained.
A high-stress lifestyle also makes you more prone to TMJ disorders. When stressed, we’re more likely to tense up, even if we don’t notice it. This includes the jaw muscles, straining them and causing problems with the jaw’s function. Even your posture impacts your jaw joint. Posture in your neck and upper back is extremely important. When you slouch, you strain the muscles and ligaments around the TMJ, contributing to jaw joint problems.
Medical Problem Causes
Rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis both cause issues with the jaw joint. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder that attacks your joints. It causes pain, swelling, and issues with movement in the TMJ. Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease. The cartilage in the jaw joint wears down, causing the joint to become stiff and painful. Certain connective tissue disorders impact the ligaments and structure of the TMJ. Since these tissues are weakened, the joint can be unstable, and dysfunctional.
Hormones are especially impactful in female patients with TMJ disorders. During your menstrual cycle, pregnancy, or menopause, there are big hormonal shifts. Your joints become laxer and you can be more susceptible to pain, making the TMJ more prone to dysfunction.
Trauma and oral surgery complications can impact the integrity of your jaw. Car accidents or other incidents that result in a direct blow to the jaw can damage the joint or the surrounding structures. Extracting your wisdom teeth or undergoing surgery that involves significant jaw realignment leads to big changes in the jaw.
Lastly, another common cause is tooth misalignment, also known as malocclusion or a bad bite. When your teeth don’t come together properly, it strains the jaw joint and muscles around it. The jaw continues to break down the longer this is left untreated. A bad bite can be hereditary, occur due to missing teeth or teeth grinding, or even due to bad orthodontic treatment.
Schedule a TMJ Consultation Today
If you suspect you’ve been grinding your teeth or if you experience frequent pain in your jawbone, contact our office as soon as possible. We are here to help you restore your peace of mind with a patient-centered TMJ treatment plan. Our team is here to help. Schedule an appointment today or contact our office for any questions on TMJ disorders and treatment options.