What is a TMJ Disorder?
TMJ pain is caused by pressure or aggravation on your temporomandibular joints, the joints at the sides of your head which connect your lower jaw to your skull. Most patients with a TMJ disorder experience headaches, jaw pain, and ear pain along with other symptoms. In more advanced cases of the disorder, you can also experience clicking or grinding noises, difficulty chewing, swelling, and tinnitus.
Although experts have not agreed on an exact cause of TMJ disorders, they have concluded that there are several factors that can put you at risk of a TMJ disorder, including:
- Facial trauma: The asymmetry, misalignment, and lack of growth resulting from a traumatic facial injury can affect the harmony and balance of your joints.
- Arthritis: More than 90 percent of rheumatoid arthritis patients experience jaw pain stemming from inflammation or bone erosion.
- Bruxism: Excessive teeth grinding can aggravate the joints and result in erosion of your tooth structures, which can require additional restorative dental work for treatment.
- Misaligned teeth: Attempting to realign your bite to properly chew food can put stress on your joints and lead to inflammation.
While the exact cause of TMJ disorders is still unknown, determining the root of your painful symptoms can help us design a treatment that alleviates your symptoms and provides effective relief.
While store-bought mouth guards are available, a custom oral appliance supplied by your dentist can offer unparalleled comfort and effectiveness.
Diagnosing Your TMJ Disorder
Dr. Whiteman provides conservative therapeutic treatment for TMJ disorders. After diagnosing the cause of your disorder by asking about your symptoms and performing an oral health evaluation, Dr. Whiteman can recommend an oral appliance that helps restore balance to your bite. These appliances, or mouth guards, are created using your own impressions for the most comfortable, precise fit.
How Does Appliance Therapy Work?
Usually worn during the night, an oral appliance serves two purposes. First, it can restore alignment to your jaws by adjusting your lower jaw, reducing the amount of pressure on your joints and decreasing your symptoms. For patients with teeth grinding, it can also help protect your teeth from further wear and erosion. The treatment is conservative and does not require surgery, making it a safe and effective option for the treatment of TMJ disorders. Our practice also strives to educate you on your condition and treatment options, and we will recommend daily techniques such as stretching and dietary habits to help reduce your symptoms without surgery.
Schedule a Consultation
Oral appliance therapy can help you find relief from your symptoms almost immediately, allowing you to enjoy your oral health for years to come. While store-bought mouth guards are available, a custom oral appliance supplied by your dentist can offer unparalleled comfort and effectiveness. To schedule a consultation, call our office at (617) 731-4746 or contact us online.