Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMD), is a complex group of conditions that affect an incredible number of people. TMD is often referred to by patients as TMJ, though TMJ specifically translates to temporomandibular joint, which is the joint located just in front of the lower part of the ear.
The TMJ allows the lower jaw to move and the mouth to open and close. The dislocation of this joint, or disturbance in its operation, can cause pain or difficulty with daily activities.
Your unexplained chronic headaches, earaches, or other facial pain can be explained by instability in the jaw joints, or TMJ. Many people who suffer from headaches, earaches, or jaw pain do not realize their condition could be cured by a dentist.
Symptoms of TMJ Disorder
TMD is sometimes caused by teeth grinding, which often happens during sleep. It is therefore important to recognize symptoms of TMJ Disorder, as you may not realize you grind your teeth at all:
- Pain or tenderness in the face, jaw joint area, neck and shoulders, and in or around the ear when you chew, speak, or open your mouth wide
- Limited ability to open the mouth very wide
- Jaws that get “stuck” or “lock” in the open or closed-mouth position
- Clicking, popping, or grating sounds in the jaw joint when opening or closing the mouth (which may or may not be accompanied by pain) or chewing
- A tired feeling in the face
- Difficulty chewing or a sudden uncomfortable bite – as if the upper and lower teeth are not fitting together properly
- Swelling on the side of the face
Patients can try several conservative, at-home treatments to dissipate the pain they feel from TMJ dysfunction. These include applying cold packs, eating softer foods, wearing a night guard, or learning relaxation techniques. When at-home remedies are not enough, Dr. McCool can offer a number of treatments to prevent and eliminate TMJ pain.
NTI-tss Dental Device
A NTI-tss is a small night-guard that fits comfortably between your teeth, preventing the teeth from coming into contact with one another and grinding. The NTI-tss device is FDA approved and reduces clenching and grinding by up to 66 percent.
They differ from traditional night guards because night guard devices provide a surface for you to “bite down on.” New studies show, however, that these devices can actually increase the intensity of your clenching reflex. The NTI-tss device suppresses the clenching reflex by preventing the teeth from contacting each other. There is no surface to bite down on or bite into.
Bite Correction Therapy
Dr. McCool may correct TMJ dysfunction by reshaping the teeth to allow the jaw to close in its proper position. This treatment will eliminate stress on the joints and relieve pain.
Reshaping of the teeth may include:
- Removing tooth structure
- Using dental crowns or porcelain veneers
- Orthodontic treatment
- Implant dentistry