Posts for: May, 2013
You have probably heard a lot of people talk about TMJ disorders, but do you know what it all means? How do you know if you are suffering from a TMJ disorder?
Below are answers to some common questions about TMJ disorders.
What is a TMJ disorder?
First, we should explain that TMJ actually refers to the Temporomandibular Joint, which is the formal name for your jaw joint(s). TMD stands for Temporomandibular Disorders, which is the correct name for the muscle and/or joint symptoms that commonly arise when there is TMJ pain and dysfunction. You may have heard people refer to the actual disorder as TMJ, but this name is incorrect.
When I experience TMJ pain, what exactly is happening?
Let's first understand all of the parts that play a role in your pain. The temporomandibular joints connect your mandible (lower jaw) to your skull on both the left and right sides, which makes the lower jaw the only bone in the body with completely symmetrical joints at both ends. There is a ball-and-socket relationship between your jaw and your skull on both sides, but the unique part is the presence of a cushioning disk between the two surfaces in each joint. Each TMJ has a disk between the ball (condyle) and socket (fossa), and this sometimes ends up being an especially important area when trouble arises.
So, how do I know if I have TMD?
You can never be absolutely sure, but here are some symptoms you should be sure to share with us during your examination:
- Clicking. You may experience a clicking sound in the jaw, usually due to a shift in the position of the disk inside the joint. However, if you do not have pain or limited jaw function, this symptom may be insignificant.
- Muscle Pain. The next symptom is jaw muscle pain, usually in the cheeks or temples. If the muscle is sore or stiff in the morning, this pain is usually related to clenching or grinding in your sleep. However, there are more complex muscle pains that can spread to your head and neck.
- TMJ Pain. This third symptom refers to pain actually inside one or both of your jaw joints, technically described as arthritis of the TMJ.
If diagnosed, what can I expect from treatment?
We will first need to assess the damage to your TMJ, and from there we will recommend a course of treatment to relieve your pain. Treatment may range from hot or cold compresses and anti-inflammatory medications to physical therapy or a bite guard. We may also advise you to do jaw exercises at home. In general, we will do our best to treat your issue without orthodontic treatment or surgery.
If you would like more information about TMD, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Seeking Relief from TMD.”
Do you ever find yourself thinking, “My smile would be near perfect if only?” If your answer is yes, come and see us to discuss some of the most advanced cosmetic treatment procedures available to give you a more dazzling smile in the shortest amount of time. Almost anything is possible from simple whitening procedures to a complete smile makeover, which may include repositioning your teeth with orthodontics and changing tooth shape and color with porcelain laminate veneers, to name a few options.
Before your visit, make a list of all of the things that you would like changed or improved. Being able to effectively communicate your desires to us will help immensely as we work together on your smile makeover. Although we may have a different opinion on what may actually be possible based on your dental and oral health, simply knowing how you define “your” ideal smile can be a good starting point.
For example, have you thought about and answered the following questions:
- Do you think your teeth or gums show too much or too little when you smile?
- What do you like and dislike? Are you unhappy with the size, shape or position of your teeth?
- Do you have unsightly gaps between some or all of your teeth?
- Do you think your smile would be improved if your teeth were whiter?
Providing us with a clear picture of all the things you like or don't like about your current smile will help guide the process. Even a picture of a smile that you like of a younger you or even torn from the pages of a celebrity magazine could be helpful. During our initial consultation, we will take all the dental records necessary for a cosmetic evaluation and smile enhancement. We can then compare your actual results to your “wish list” to ascertain how close we can get to your ideal smile and even create a computer-generated image of what we can achieve.
If you think you are ready to change your smile, call us today. For further information on the importance of having a clear vision plan that both patient and dentist agree upon, read the Dear Doctor magazine article “Great Expectations: Is What You Get What You Want?”