Do you experience jaw pain or a popping and clicking in the jaw? Do you clench or grind your teeth? Does your bite just feel off sometimes? Do you have headaches (including migraines), earaches, neck pain, or ringing in the ears? Have you tried to get treatment for these symptoms, but haven’t gotten good results? If that’s the case, then it’s possible you have TMJ, temporomandibular joint disorder, sometimes called TMD. Many doctors and even dentists know little about this condition, and it can go undiagnosed (or misdiagnosed) for years.
The highly trained dentists at Denali Dental Care can help if you have TMJ. To learn more about TMJ treatment in Anchorage, please call (907) 274-7691 today for an appointment with a TMJ dentist at Denali Dental Care.
Symptoms of TMJ
How do you know if you have TMJ? You might look out for some of the common symptoms of the condition, such as:
- Jaw pain
- Jaw popping or clicking
- Bruxism (teeth clenching and grinding)
- A bite that often feels wrong
- Chipped, worn, or cracking teeth
- Headaches (including migraine)
- Neck pain
- Earache or fullness
- Tinnitus (ringing or other sounds in the ears)
- Vertigo or dizziness
- Tingling and numbness in the fingers
Some of these symptoms seem logical, but others can be hard to see the connection. That’s part of the reason why TMJ can go undiagnosed for such a long time, or can be misdiagnosed as many different problems.
People may get treatment for headaches or neck pain, such as chiropractic care, but find that the results aren’t as promised because the true problem is elsewhere.
The first challenge in diagnosing TMJ is understanding the diverse symptoms it can cause and recognizing when it might be present. But true diagnosis of the condition depends on several steps.
Medical History: During your consultation, we will talk to you about your medical history. We will attempt to learn whether there are other possible explanations for the condition that haven’t been tested. We will also learn about the progress of your symptoms and find the links between them, which should point to TMJ.
Palpation: To truly understand what’s going on in your jaw joint, we have to feel it. We will feel your jaw joints, the muscles, and other structures as you move your jaw. This will help us to measure the movement of all the components. It also gives you an opportunity to tell us about your pain. Tell us exactly when it occurs, the type of pain, and the intensity of pain. This will help us track down the exact sources of your discomfort so that we can target it more precisely with treatment.
Imaging: We may also recommend imaging of the jaw joint and other structures to better understand what’s going on. This may include digital imaging of the teeth, panoramic digital x-rays, ultrasound, and more.
TMJ treatment can come in several forms.
Home Care: For minor or transient cases of TMJ, home care is often sufficient. You can apply ice to swollen joints, or heat to sore muscles. You should also reduce jaw activity if possible. Try eating a soft diet for a few days, and give up habits like chewing gum, nail biting, and others that can stress the jaw joint and muscles.
BOTOX ® Injections: Sometimes it’s hard to get your muscles to relax on your own. In that case BOTOX ® injections can be used to achieve that relaxation. BOTOX ® forces your muscles to relax, which can relieve the cycle of pain as well as the damaging impact of overactive muscles on your teeth and jaw joints. BOTOX ® injections have to be repeated every six months or so to maintain effectiveness.
Orthotics: An orthotic is a mouthguard that is also a TMJ treatment. It helps hold your jaw in a healthy position to encourage relaxed muscles, promote healing, and avoid damage from TMJ. Orthotics may be fixed or removable. If you have a removable orthotic, you might start out wearing it all the time, but may transition to just wearing it at night.
Reconstructive Dentistry: If your teeth have been badly damaged, it can contribute to TMJ. Jaw trauma, tooth decay, and even TMJ itself can contribute to the destruction of your teeth, and once that occurs it can be impossible to maintain a healthy jaw position. Reconstructive dentistry rebuilds your teeth to help you maintain the right jaw position.
Which TMJ Treatment Is Right for You?
You don’t have to keep suffering with the symptoms of TMJ. If you have tried many different treatments for your symptoms, but haven’t gotten the results you want, we can help you identify the true cause of symptoms and finally get true relief.
Please call (907) 274-7691 today for an appointment with an Anchorage TMJ dentist at Denali Dental Care.