It’s possible at some point you’ve heard someone say “I have TMJ.” However, TMJ is not an illness or disorder. Instead, they are your temporomandibular joints – abbreviated TMJ. This complex system makes it possible to open and close your mouth. Your TMJ are located on either side of your skull and allow you to perform the motions needed to chew, speak or swallow. The TMJ system includes not only your lower jaw, or mandible, but also the muscles and ligaments that move it.
Each side of the TMJ includes a disc of sponge-like cartilage that cushions the ball and socket joint of your mandible. This cartilage supports the jaw while also allowing it the freedom of movement to open wide or move from side to side. Any impediment to this system of muscles, ligaments, discs and bones can be called a TMJ disorder and this is what most people refer to when discussing TMJ. Dr. Cappy Sinclair and Dr. Mark Reichley of Coastal Cosmetic & Implant Dentistry in Virginia Beach have completed advanced post graduate training in the fundamentals of TMJ disorders as well as the latest techniques for treating this complex condition. They can help you alleviate the discomfort from TMD’s and stop the progression of dental issues that they can cause.
Symptoms of a TMD
A disorder of the TMJ is called a TMD — a temporomandibular disorder. TMD can be difficult to diagnose as it manifests very differently in different individuals. However, some of the most common signs of a TMD are:
- Frequent headaches
- Popping, clicking or grating of the jaw (TMJ joint)
- “Locked” jaw and/or limited mobility in the jaw joint
- Discomfort when eating or chewing
- Chronic earaches without evidence of ear infections
- Soreness or tiredness in the face and/or jaws
What Causes TMJ Disorders (TMD)?
Possible causes of TMJ disorders include:
- Alignment of jaw and teeth
- Teeth grinding due to stress
How is TMJ Diagnosed?
Dr. Sinclair or Dr. Reichley must perform a thorough examination of your bite in order to diagnose the condition. He can determine its severity before treatment begins by checking the joints and muscles of the jaw for tenderness, clicking, popping or difficulty of motion.
Depending on the severity of the diagnosis, Dr. Sinclair may refer you to a physician or a dental specialist for more advanced treatment.
How is TMJ Treated at Coastal Dentistry?
One of the most important tools we use in the diagnosis and treatment of TMJ Disorders is the T-Scan, digital bite analysis. Dr. Sinclair and Dr. Reichley are among a handful of dentists in the Virginia Beach area using this type of digital technology.
The T-Scan measures both the force and timing of tooth contacts, allowing Dr. Sinclair or Dr. Reichley to get a clear picture of your bite in just seconds. You simply bite down on a wafer thin sensor and the digital software records the timing and force of the bite. The information is instantly sent to a computer to be analyzed and used in the diagnosis of bite problems and TMJ disorders.
Traditional methods for analyzing a patient’s bite were highly ineffective. Either the dentist relied on a visual assessment or used articulating paper to mark the location of tooth contacts. Neither of these methods were suitable for determining the order in which teeth make contact or their relative strength.
For less serious TMD’s, there are several home remedies Dr. Sinclair may recommend you try before considering more invasive treatment. These lifestyle change-based remedies include:
- Eating softer foods.
- Avoiding chewing gum and biting your nails
- Applying heat packs to the source of the discomfort
- Consider trying relaxation techniques to relieve tension in the jaw such as meditation or biofeedback.
- Exercises to strengthen your jaw muscles
If your symptoms are more severe, the following therapies for TMJ may include:
- Medication to relieve anxiety
- Oral appliance therapy (such as a night guard)
- Dental splints
- Occlusal equilibration, making changes to the fit of the bite by reshaping and/or removing tooth structure
Virginia Beach, VA TMJ Treatment
With a consultation, Dr. Sinclair or Dr. Reichley can determine which treatment would best suit your specific case of TMD. If you are in the Virginia Beach, VA area and think you may be suffering from TMJ disorder, schedule an appointment at Coastal Cosmetic & Implant Dentistry and their dental care team. Call (757) 453-7657 for an appointment at our Laskin Road office, call (757) 216-9914 for an appointment at our Lynnhaven office or schedule a consultation online today.