We see many people who seek treatment for jaw pain, jaws that “get stuck”, jaws that are noisy upon opening, headaches, neck aches, and unexplained ear pain. These patients come to us seeking care for TMJ. TMJ refers to the temporo-mandibular-joint, which are simply the jaw joints located in the area in front of your ears. When there is pain or injury in this area, we refer to this as temporo-mandibular disorder (also known as TMD or TMJ Syndrome). Approximately 60 million Americans have TMJ symptoms.
The TMJ is a complex joint that is intimately involved with a number of muscles, ligaments, bones and nerves connecting throughout the head. Symptoms of jaw joint disorders can include:
- Clicking, popping or grating sound when opening or closing the mouth
- Neck pain
- Tenderness in jaw muscles
- Excessive clenching and grinding of teeth
- Worn or loose teeth
- Jaws that sometimes lock open when yawning
- Spasm or cramps in the jaw area.
Dentists receive very limited training during Dental School in how to deal with TMJ problems. There is no certification for TMJ Specialists. Few dentists choose to commit themselves to the additional training and discipline needed to successfully treat jaw joint problems. As a former sufferer of TMJ disorders, Dr. Lichtsinn has pursued additional education in this area for over 15 years.
While TMD cannot always be “cured”, many symptoms can easily be managed with conservative treatment. As with any joint problem in your body, untreated symptoms can lead to further deterioration and pain. A common treatment for TMJ disorders is occlusal splint therapy. An occlusal splint is a custom acrylic appliance that resembles an athletic mouth guard. Precisely fitted and adjusted to your mouth, the splint helps allow your jaw to find a comfortable neutral position and alleviate clenching. By reducing the intensity of the clenching, the source of the pain is often effectively minimized.
Call Southpointe Dental in Fargo if you have concerns regarding your TMJ. Relief from your daily jaw pain may be a call away: 701 280-1941.