Dr. Benjamin Polan does TMJ diagnosis in Beverly, MA
TMJ Diagnosis and treating TMJ disorders
TMJ stands for the temporomandibular joint that connects your lower jaw to the temporal bones placed on the sides of your head. Movements of the temporomandibular joint are regulated by accompanying jaw muscles placed close by. There are various causes of TMJ disorder which cause numerous different pains and symptoms. Teeth grinding is a popular cause of TMJ disorders; it is a habitual act that slowly grinds down and dislocates ligaments that hold the joint together. A TMJ disorder can also appear after the joint is injured by impact, or for any reason that areas of neighboring jaw bones begin to erode and cause misalignment.
TMJ disorder diagnosis
Due to the numerous causes and symptoms of TMJ disorders, it would be ineffective to have a standard test to diagnose a patient with a TMJ disorder. Symptoms only determine if you are suffering from a TMJ disorder in the first place. Symptoms of a TMJ disorder include, but are not limited to:
- Painful or painless clicking, grating and popping in the jaw joint
- Changes in the alignment of the upper and lower teeth
- Jaw muscle spasms
- Jaw locking
- Affected posturing
- Ringing in the ears
- Limited jaw movement and stiffness
- Jaw, face and neck pain
If you experience any of these symptoms, a TMJ dentist such as Dr. Benjamin Polan in Beverly, MA begins to rule out other conditions to determine if a TMJ disorder is the culprit for your suffering. Once it has been determined that you have a TMJ disorder, there are various treatments ranging from preventative actions to surgery.
In the beginning, your dentist is likely to recommend that you take preventative actions such as avoiding gum chewing, wide yawning and eating soft foods to avoid the potentially temporary discomfort of a TMJ disorder. Along with preventative measures, simple actions such as applying ice packs to the jawline and the use of over-the-counter inflammatory pain medicines also help with TMJ disorder comfort.
Relaxation and jaw stretching techniques can also be added to your pain relief regiment. Reduction of stress lessens tension in the jawline, and employing stretching techniques allow for wider jaw movements without experiencing pain.
Stabilization sprints are often used for TMJ disorder treatments. They are used to prevent teeth grinding and offer pain relief from jaw clenching, especially at night. These mechanisms, often called night splints, are effective, but are not designed to change your bite. When a permanent change in your bite is required, orthodontic braces can be employed to permanently rearrange your bite. Braces are placed on your teeth for up to 24 months to gradually change your bite to prevent TMJ disorder pain.
At times, the uneven shape of your teeth or gaps in your jawline due to lost teeth are the key reasons for jaw misalignment. Crowns and dental veneers balance the shape of your teeth if they have been damaged by teeth grinding, cavities, old crowns or injury.
Implants and bridges replace any missing teeth that cause bite rearrangement. Use of these cosmetic treatments correct uneven teeth and place your jawline back in sync. Once your jawline is stabilized, your TMJ disorders are reduced significantly or eliminated.
Surgery is the last resort for TMJ disorder relief, and is only used when a patient is suffering from severe pain or lockjaw that is unresponsive to prior treatment. The following surgeries are the most common for TMJ disorders:
- Arthrocentesis- The simplest form of surgery. A procedure that injects a saline and steroid formula into the jawline to unstick cartilage.
- TMJ microsurgery- A more advanced surgery that repairs the temporomandibular joint through a small incision in the ear.
- Open surgery- A more open incision is used near the ear to remove a larger amount of damaged cartilage near the temporomandibular joint.
It is best to visit a TMJ dentist as soon as you notice any changes in your bite and feel any discomfort in your jawline. Thankfully, the craft-work of jaw muscles and joints are complex and often used so discomfort is quickly noticeable to notify you of any malfunction. An experienced TMJ dentist such as Dr. Benjamin Polan deals with TMJ disorders by helping you understand every step of the process, avoiding complicated issues and unnecessary discomfort.