Temporo-Mandibular Joint Disorder (TMJD) is one of the most misunderstood conditions in dentistry. It can also be called TMJ Syndrome or TMJ Dysfunction. It’s so misunderstood that most people refer to it incorrectly as TMJ – which just means Temporo-mandibular joints! The TM joints are what connect the jaw to skull and allow us to eat and speak. These joints are extremely complicated and allow for an incredible range of articulation. The issue is that this complexity makes treating this disorder even more difficult. TMJ Disorder can go undiagnosed for decades or even misdiagnosed as something else!
The problem with TMJ symptoms is how they are linked. One issue caused by the disorder can in turn cause another problem, which in turn causes another. If you treat the symptoms and not the cause of the disorder you are simply fighting a losing battle. What’s even worse is that the disorder causes symptoms that seem completely unrelated , such as; insomnia, headaches, vertigo, neck pain and even back pain. More common symptoms of TMJD include tooth grinding, jaw clicking and popping, tinnitus, jaw locking, and difficulty opening and closing the mouth.
TMJ Disorder is a common cause for tooth grinding. The problem here is that tooth grinding in turn damages the teeth, in many instances irreparably. The grinding can wear down the teeth and cause tooth sensitivity. Eventually the near-constant grinding can actually crack the teeth and kill them. The grinding can make horrible noises that can keep your significant other awake at night. It also flattens the teeth which shortens the face making the muscles in the face go slack and increasing the appearance of age. Extreme grinding will also create a higher risk of dental implant failure and put undue stress on dental bridges, causing unnecessary failures.
TMJD can cause uncomfortable jaw clicking and popping . In some cases these pops and clicks can be heard across a room. If the TMJ disc becomes badly enough damaged these problems can grow worse and may eventually lead to jaw locking. If you think the sensation of your jaw popping is disquieting just wait until your jaw locks shut or, yes, even open. TMJ can cause severe tinnitus, which is ringing in the ears . The Temporo-mandibular joint is located just below and slightly in front of the ears. The ears help regulate your balance and problems with the joints can disrupt the ears and cause dizziness and, in extreme cases, vertigo . This is exacerbated by the location of the sternocleidomastoid muscle in your neck, that helps further regulate balance. It’s a pretty horrible feeling when you suffer from extreme vertigo but the doctor can’t find anything wrong.
TMJ Disorder treatment begins with a diagnosis. Many people see ear, nose and throat specialists for issues they are having and get misdiagnosed because these doctors are not trained to recognize TMJD. An experienced TMJ dentist can look at the symptoms and determine if TMJD is the underlying cause. Once it has been diagnosed treatment can begin. The primary objective should be to relieve symptoms and treat the cause while avoiding surgery. Treatment is complicated and requires the patience of both the doctor and the patient. Many patients become frustrated because of the many related medical problems and many different treatment philosophies.
The first goal of treatment is to relieve pain. Once that is done it is important to adjust the bite in order to correct the movement of the joints. A TMJ mouth guard is one of the most common forms of treatment. This mouth guard must be created to very exacting standards and worn as prescribed by your TMJ dentist. In addition to wearing a mouth guard, also called a TMJ splint, a patient may relief from TMJ massage. In most cases, a massage therapist can offer some help with the pain. Once this is done orthodontics may be necessary to correct the occlusion.
Dr. Padolsky of the Atlanta Dental Group PC has developed a TMD treatment program that is designed to treat the cause of TMD. After observing TMD problems in his patients, Dr. Padolsky immediately realized the importance of understanding and treating this disorder. In over 30 years of practicing dentistry Dr. Padolsky has successfully treated many TMJ patients and has taken an exhausting number of continuing education courses. This earned him a Fellowship in the Atlanta Craniomandibular Society in 1990. The Society was dedicated to the multidisciplinary study of TMJ Dysfunction. Dr. P is also a past president and served as Vice President and General Meeting Chairman in 1989. In this time he has developed a TMJ treatment program that takes a multi-pronged approach and uses surgery only as a last resort.
To correctly diagnose TMJD you should visit a TMJD dentist. The dentist will begin with a clinical examination and history. An MRI or CAT scan cen help with the diagnosis as well asl locating the exact source of the problem. TMJ jaw treatment may involve alternative TMJ therapy such as TMJ acupuncture and TMJ chiropractic as part of a TMJ remedy of a bad TMJ jaw. Dr. Padolsky is experienced in treating TMJD problems. If you are experiencing and of these symptoms call our office for a TMJ consultation with Dr. Padolsky, call 404-874-7428 for an appointment.