We are experienced and credentialed Dentists who are committed to using a health-centered approach to improving your TMJ symptoms. We can address your TMJ and jaw concerns using wellness-based dental treatment methods. Our dentists are highly familiar with this condition and are well-versed in the proper procedures for diagnosis and treatment. We take a health-centered approach when it comes to treating TMJ and TMD health and caring for the systemic health as well as the overall health of your teeth and gums.
Poor TMJ health and TMD can lead to severe discomfort, debilitating symptoms, and jeopardize overall oral health. Ultimately, an unstable chewing system can even lead to tooth loss. Ivonne Castro Family Dentistry provides superior care in treating TMJ health and TMD. We have successfully diagnosed and treated many cases of TMD with the least minimally invasive approach. We’re confident that we can help alleviate all the symptoms you’re experiencing and ensure that our proactive guidance will deter all the significant long-term effects of TMD including tooth loss. Your day-to-day life will drastically be improved– most patients don’t even realize how much of their overall health is actually affected by having untreated TMD. Our goal, as always, is to maintain as many natural teeth as possible. That’s why diagnosing and proactive treatment of poor TMJ health is so vital to us.
What are TMJ and TMD?
The TMJ, or temporomandibular joint, is the joint that connects your jawbone to your skull. This joint acts as a sliding hinge and is featured on each side of your jaw. A TMJ disorder or dysfunction, also referred to as TMD, refers to any abnormal activity or pain associated with this joint. This is often a result when your jaw joints, bite, and chewing muscles aren’t working together properly. Untreated TMD leads to a worsened quality of life in addition to significant long-term dental health complications.
What Causes TMJ Disorders or TMD?
A multitude of different factors can lead to TMJ disorders. One or more of the following factors contribute to TMJ disorders:
- Jaw injury
- Teeth grinding
- Teeth clenching
- Muscle spasms
- Jaw joint displacement
Jaw injury, teeth grinding, and teeth clenching can all lead to a poor bite which is a root cause of TMD. The primary problem behind TMD is usually the joints themselves; the muscles in your face and jaw; the complex chewing system; or a combination of all of these. When your teeth experience excessive wear from teeth grinding, improper bite, or any other causes, the jaw joints suffer from being pulled out of the sockets and are braced in a way that your jaw muscles are constantly contracting. Your facial muscles then suffer from continued pain and soreness. This vicious cycle continues to impact each part of your complex chewing system, quickly accelerating permanent damage among your dental tissue, muscles, nerves, and teeth. If your oral system isn’t working in perfect harmony, this is the leading cause of TMD.
Symptoms of TMJ Disorders or TMD
Patients suffering from TMJ disorders may experience one or more of the following:
- Pain and tenderness of the jaw
- Pain in one or more of the joints themselves
- Pain when opening and closing your mouth
- Clicking or popping noises when opening or closing your mouth
- Aching pain inside and around the ear
- Difficulty chewing
- Painful chewing
- Facial pain
- Locking of the joint, leading to difficulty opening and closing the mouth
- Muscle spasms within your jaw
These direct symptoms of TMD often lead to a plethora of other symptoms that affect other areas of your body:
- Headaches and migraines
- Pain experienced behind your eyes
- Ringing of the ears or earaches
- Grinding or clenching of teeth
- Chipped, loose, broken, and/or worn teeth
- Pain experienced among the neck, shoulder, and/or back area
- Tingling or numb sensation among the fingers
Since these symptoms are experienced throughout the body, many patients suffering from TMD are left undiagnosed. Unfortunately, patients usually only visit primary care physicians or specialists. Regular preventative examinations by Ivonne Castro Family Dentistry allows us to periodically check on your TMJ health and properly diagnose TMD.
The Impact of Having an Unstable Chewing System
Having an unstable chewing system that’s left untreated can lead to a multitude of dental issues including excessive tooth wear in certain areas of your mouth; damaged and/or loose teeth; sensitivity; TMD and other jaw joint disorders; in addition to tooth loss. Improper alignment accelerates tooth wear in addition to poor jaw joint health and overworked facial muscles.
Having a proactive approach to stabilizing your chewing system and ensuring all parts work properly and harmoniously together is vital in ensuring your long-term oral health. Attending bi-annual preventative dental exams allows our team to identify if you have an unstable chewing system. If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms outlined above, we recommend scheduling an appointment as soon as possible before the long-term effects are unavoidable.
Diagnosis and Treatment of TMJ Disorders
Ivonne Castro Family Dentistry begins to identify these disorders through a physical examination in addition to learning the history and symptoms our patients have experienced. We conduct a thorough examination of your jaw joint and chewing muscles in addition to evaluating joint noises when you open and close your mouth as well as the alignment of your chewing system. We may have to utilize modeling and imaging technology for a more in-depth study of your detailed bite analysis.
Once we’re able to properly diagnose your TMJ disorder, we offer a wide range of minimally invasive treatments that immediately alleviate the pain and discomfort. In addition to proper self-management, TMJ disorders are easy to treat making surgery a last resort option. Our team begins by stabilizing your complex chewing system with the goal of harmonizing each working part. Oral appliances are often utilized for stabilization, offering an effective, holistic approach. Other general dentists or physicians may give you treatments that only address the symptoms of TMD, our dentistry focuses on fixing the root problem of TMD which is having an unstable chewing system.
For more information regarding TMJ/TMD health or to schedule an appointment, please contact us!