The jaw joint consists of 2 bones: the mandible (jawbone) and the temporal bone (located at the side of your skull). These bones are attached to each other by ligaments and are surrounded by small muscles which play a vital role in controlling movements and positioning of the jaw. A small fibrous pad (also known as a disc) acts as a friction absorber, preventing the bones from rubbing on each other. They also insure a smooth functioning joint. The neck and shoulder muscles can indirectly affect the jaw area and/or become tense and painful as a result of jaw joint problems. Any or all of these can aggravate or cause TMD.
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About TMJ and TMD
TMD can be difficult to diagnose and treat because the problem often crosses over into several different specialties in medicine and dentistry. People who suffer from this disorder have typically visited many different health care professionals -- all of whom may have a piece of the puzzle. Dr. Baker is a specially-trained TMD dentist. If you need referrals to other health care professionals, he can suggest who to see for your particular TMD problem.
Did you know that over 10 million Americans have TMJ disorder with either mild to severe symptoms? Unfortunately, ignoring TMJ doesn't make it go away. In fact, some of the more serious cases require surgery (only 3-5%). The term "TMJ" stands for TemporoMandibular Joint. We all have two TMJs - one on each side of our head in front of the ears. They allow the jaw to open and close, move side to side, forward and backward. Unlike other joints of the body, these joints move in unison. When one or both aren't functioning properly, it is referred to as a TemporoMandibular Dysfunction.
Even though a person can have TMD and not be experiencing any pain, they may still have some of these symptoms:
There are many factors that can cause TMD. Those factors include, but are not limited to:
Trauma or injury to the head, jaw or neck
Arthritis of the TMJ
An uneven bite resulting in "malocclusion"
Poor postural habits
Slipping or tearing of the joint's cushioning pad or disc resulting in abnormal positioning of the joint
Chronic stress from a job, family or personal factors
HOW TMJ DISORDER IS DIAGNOSED
Along with a thorough health history, we perform a comprehensive exam, take appropriate x-rays, perform range of motion testing and jaw tracking, and other diagnostics on an as-needed basis. We will discuss the onset, duration and intensity of pain, and we may address stress and nutritional issues. This helps us arrive at an accurate diagnosis.
Our treatment philosophy is conservative and non-surgical for TMD, head, neck and facial pain. Once a patient is properly diagnosed, we may use various treatments such as:
Custom orthotic (splint) therapy
Lumix 2 cold laser
Trigger point injections
Spray & Stretch
ETPS (Electro Therapeutic Point Stimulation) neuro-mechanical acupuncture
Specific jaw, head and neck exercises
Nutrition counseling or referral
Ultrasound and Iontophoresis (future offered treatment)
A custom fitted orthotic, also known as a splint, is the most recommended form of treatment. The purpose of the splint is to balance the bite so the teeth, muscles and joints all work in harmony without strain or pain. This is achieved by eliminating muscle spasms (which occur with bite imbalance) and stabilizing the TMJs.
Self-help is important to the success of your treatment. For instance, there are things you can do to help your condition until you can get into the office for an appointment, such as:
Avoid chewing gum
Avoid eating crunchy or chewy foods
Apply heat to sore muscles
Apply cold to swollen areas
Decrease your stress level
A healthy exercise program
Eat a well-balanced diet
Practice "lips together, teeth apart" anytime it is possible
At times Dr. Baker will suggest supplemental care by providing referrals to other health professionals. Each patient's symptoms are unique. Treatment and referral recommendations are made accordingly