Many people in Greenville suffer from recurring headaches as well as facial & neck pain due to Temporomandibular Disorders, or TMD. The Temporomandibular joints (TMJ) join the skull and the mandible (lower jawbone). The amount of use these joints endure, structural and other dental issues such as bite problems (malocclusion) can cause many uncomfortable and even restrictive symptoms. To accurately diagnose TMD, look to Greenville Dr. Lindner, a TMJ Dentist in Greenville obtains a patient’s history and performs a special clinical examination that includes: A head and neck muscle examination, An evaluation of the movements of the jaw, An evaluation of the TMJ joints. An MRI may be required in certain situations to ascertain the structural integrity of the Temporomandibular joints (TMJ) and disc assembly.
Symptoms of TMD include:
- Locked jaw.(TMJ)
- Inability to fully open mouth.
- Facial Swelling.
- Frequent neck & headaches (even migraines).
- Stuffiness, ringing, or pain in the ear canal.
- Pain in the face, neck, or jaw.(TMJ)
- TMJ Jaw related muscle spasms.
- Popping or clicking in the jaw.(TMJ)
- Loose teeth.
- Changing tooth alignment.
- Grinding of the teeth.
- Referred pain to teeth, eyes, or ears
- Ringing in ears
TMD & TMJ Disorder Treatment in Greenville
At Create Dental Harmony in Greenville, correcting dental bite problems (malocclusion) is very important to protect the longevity of your teeth and TMJ’s. The treatment may include orthodontics, occlusal splint, bite balancing (reshaping the teeth) or the restoration of the biting surfaces with crowns or transitional bondings (fillings)
Let’s start with a little background on TMJ anatomy, the teeth are situated in the jaw and are surrounded by muscles. In the joint on the head of the condyle is a fibrocartilage disc. This fibrous cushion is similar to other joints in the body as it helps protect the bone that articulate in the socket.
There is a ligament that is attached to the fibrous cushion that is also attached to the superior head of the medial pterygoid muscle of the jaw, so if there is a imbalance in the bite or a discrepancy to closure the disc will be pulled out of position.
So during the day there is a section in your brain which is in charge of GPS and basically it tells the muscles of the jaw to move in a direction to avoid the offending tooth that hits first when the jaw closes or during chewing. This is analogous to when your driving your car and you see an upcoming pothole, you automatically swerve the car to avoid it. This movement subluxates the jaw away from it’s normal position thus stretching the muscles and ligaments and tugging on the fibrous cushion.
At night however this GPS turns off and basically the natural tendencies is to clench or grind the offending tooth down so the teeth close evenly, touching at the same time. This doesn’t usually occur quickly, it continues for a long time. Sometimes it results in a sensitive,fractured tooth, filling,crown or a loose tooth
Over longer periods of time, the fibrous cushion gets pulled away and you begin to hear the clicking or popping sound when you open up. This is the disc recapturing its position meaning it get stuck in front of the condyle and then gets back on. As time progresses , we know degeneration and thinning of the fibrous cushion occurs until invariably tearing. Once the fibrous cushion tears, the fibrous cushion can get stuck in front of the condyle or on the side resulting in different levels of pain.
The muscles throughout this entire process tend to become very sore and spastic due to the lactic acid buildup from the extended state of contraction.
Many other factors can affect the joint like arthritis, genetics, early trauma or accidents during the growth phase of the condyle.
It is therefore necessary to get a TMJ- MRI in order to determine the extent of damage in the condyle-disc assembly. TMJ-MRI’s today are considered the standard of care for TMJ diagnosis. If severe damage is detected, we will refer the patient to Dr. Mark Piper in Florida who is a world renowned TMJ surgeon. Less than 5 % of all TMJ cases result in surgery. Sometimes we can design a custom appliance to help balance the occlusion or bite to help relieve the muscle pain or soreness.
I believe the key to avoiding Temporomandibular Joint disease is through early detection of an irregular, unbalanced bite which can only be found by the restorative dentist who takes careful comprehensive records of the patient to evaluate the bite. There are no shortcuts to this process.