Questions about TMJ Disorder

Lake Forest, Lake Bluff, and Lincolnshire

When your jaw joints become misaligned or enter a state of dysfunction, you may develop a problem known as temporomandibular joint disorder. A patient with TMJ disorder may experience a wide array of symptoms, including chronic, debilitating pain. At Lake Forest Smiles, we use neuromuscular dentistry to bring the jaw and bite back to their ideal resting position, resolving a case of TMJ disorder.
questions about tmj

Here are some frequently asked questions about TMJ disorder.

What causes TMJ disorder?

Causes of TMJ disorder may vary for each patient, but frequently reported causes include the following:

  • Injury to the face, head or neck
  • Bruxism, which also is referred to as teeth grinding or clenching
  • Arthritis, emanating from the temporomandibular joint
  • Dislocation of the disc between the ball and socket of the temporomandibular joint
  • Stress, which causes you to tighten the muscles of your face and jaw or clench and grind your teeth
  • Missing teeth
  • Misaligned or crooked teeth

What are the symptoms of TMJ disorder?

The exact symptoms of TMJ disorder can vary widely from case to case.

However, patients with TMJ disorder regularly report the following:

  • Pain in the jaw, teeth, neck, or back
  • A clicking or popping sound when opening and closing the jaw
  • Locking jaw, or limited range of motion in the jaws
  • Difficulty chewing
  • Malocclusion, which also is known as a misaligned bite
  • Ringing, stuffiness, or congestion in the ears

Another common symptom of TMJ disorder is painful headaches, which may be severe or misdiagnosed as migraines. These headaches may feel like migraines or be of migraine-like intensity, but they do not respond well to conventional migraine treatments. Learn more about how TMJ disorder leads to painful headaches, or to explore the difference between TMD headaches and migraines.

Generally speaking, severe pain is a regular consequence of TMJ disorder because the temporomandibular joint is located very close to the trigeminal nerve, a prominent neural pathway. When the temporomandibular joint becomes imbalanced, it can compress or impact the trigeminal nerve, transmitting pain.

Why choose a neuromuscular dentist?

There is no other medical professional better qualified to help a person suffering from TMD than a neuromuscular dentist. A dentist who specializes in neuromuscular dentistry goes through rigorous post-graduate education that is far beyond what is taught in normal dental school. The focus of neuromuscular dentistry is finding or restoring the ideal alignment of the bite and jaw. Neuromuscular dentists use their unique training, in combination with some of the latest technological advances available in dental science, to provide an accurate diagnosis as to whether a case of TMJ disorder is present, and to derive the most effective treatment plan.

How does Lake Forest Smiles diagnose TMJ disorder?

Our neuromuscular dentists will examine your bite and temporomandibular joints for possible pain and tenderness. We also may use technological advances such as the K-7 system, which can identify any clicking or popping sounds as your jaw moves, as well as identify any inordinate stress or strain being placed on the mastication (jaw) muscles. We may also take X-rays to determine more detailed images of your jaw joints and teeth.

How is TMJ disorder treated?

At Lake Forest Smiles, our neuromuscular dentists often prefer to treat a patient with TMJ disorder through noninvasive measures, either oral appliance therapy, occlusal adjustments, TENS therapy, or orthodontics. Severe cases of TMD may respond best to a combination of treatments or surgery. Using impressions of your mouth, we fabricate an orthotic mouthpiece that is customized to fit as snugly, securely, and comfortably as possible. When this mouthpiece is worn, it applies gentle pressure, guiding your lower jaw into its preferred alignment and resolving the stress being placed on the temporomandibular joints. Once the TMJ disorder has been treated, pain also will be resolved.

In very rare cases, surgery may be needed.

TMJ Treatment in Lake Forest

Make no mistake: if you or someone you love has TMJ disorder, the only way to obtain lasting relief is to seek diagnosis and treatment from a qualified medical professional like a neuromuscular dentist in Lake Forest. Waiting to see if painful TMJ symptoms will go away only worsens the condition.

If you have been diagnosed with TMJ disorder or think you may suffer from this disorder, get the relief you deserve by calling Lake Forest Smiles at (847) 234-4800. Drs. Campbell and Schmidt have been providing elite dental care to the communities of Lake Forest, Lake Bluff, and Lincolnshire for more than 30 years. We welcome you to our practice.

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