TMJ Treatment in Bellaire, TX

Serving the Houston, TX community

Do you clench or grind with your teeth? Do you wake up with a sore jaw or shoulders? Both may be symptoms of a problem with your temporomandibular joint, and the first step is an evaluation to assess your needs. If Dr. Schultz determines that your TMJ is responsible for the symptoms, he will develop a plan for treatment at our Houston, TX dental office to provide the relief you need. Would you like to learn more about TMJ disorders? Many of the questions we hear most frequently are listed below, but we are always more than happy to provide the answers you need. If you don’t see your question here, please call us at (713) 664-6665.

 

What is TMJ disorder or dysfunction?

TMJ is an acronym that stands for “temporomandibular joint.” These two joints on either side of your head attach your jaw to the rest of the skull. TMJ disorder or dysfunction (TMD or TMJD) is a term used to describe the symptoms that arise when the jaws, teeth, and muscles surrounding the TMJ fail to work in harmony, often due to the jaw joints being out of place.

What does the temporomandibular joint do?

As the point of fixation between the jaw and the side of the head, the temporomandibular joints allow you to move your jaw as well as open and close your mouth. These structures play a critical role in the ability to chew, yawn, and speak with ease.

When it is functioning properly, the TMJ should allow seamless motion of the jaw without pain, tension, or resistance. However, when the jaw joint or any of the surrounding soft tissues become inflamed, stressed, misaligned, or knocked out of the proper positioning, opening and closing the mouth can be difficult, uncomfortable, or painful. Symptoms can be localized to the area surrounding the TMJ, or begin to affect other areas of the body.

What are some symptoms of TMJ disorder?

People with TMJ disorder or dysfunction often suffer from a number of different symptoms that can adversely affect their lifestyle. If any of the following symptoms are causing distress in your day-to-day life, please contact our practice to discuss your concerns or to schedule a consultation.

  • Clicking or popping jaw joint
  • Pain in or around the jaw joints
  • Locking of the jaw
  • Limited opening of the mouth
  • Problems or discomfort when eating or chewing

Common TMD symptoms that may be less obvious include:

  • Headaches
  • Pain in the neck and shoulders
  • Earaches
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Dizziness
  • Toothaches

These indications are usually caused by spasms that take place when the muscles connected to the jaw bones and joints are stressed or strained by an unstable bite.

Does TMJ disorder cause other problems?

The temporomandibular joint is involved in a complex system of muscles, nerves, tendons, cartilage, discs, and blood vessels—all of which work together to enable biting function.

When there is dysfunction within the jaw joint and its interconnected mechanisms, or if you have a poor bite, this delicate system can be disrupted. In accommodating this physiological imbalance, the nerves and muscles of the face are often forced to behave irregularly, causing tension, pain, and other symptoms to spread to the head, back, neck, and shoulders.

What causes TMJ disorders?

TMJ disorder or dysfunction may be aggravated by an unstable or misaligned bite (teeth that are not properly positioned on the jaw bone), incidents involving a blow to the mouth or head, whiplash injury, or a combination of several of these factors.

The jaw joint is a ball and socket joint that, when functioning properly, is cushioned and separated by a thin disc of cartilage, but an unstable bite or malocclusion can pull the joint out of alignment.

Mild displacement of the TMJ typically causes a clicking or popping sound, while more severe displacement can be very painful. Untreated TMJ dysfunction may worsen and become more debilitating as time goes by. When treatment is provided in the early stages, the prognosis for a return to normal function is generally positive.

Will TMD resolve on its own without treatment?

The symptoms of TMD will not go away unless we address the sources of inflammation, injury, or stress to the jaw joint that is causing your symptoms.

In fact, as tension on the temporomandibular joints continues over time, the condition may exacerbate. Timely treatment is essential for restoring proper function of your oral structures and preventing any long-term damage to the TMJ.

Fortunately, there are a number of non-invasive solutions that can be utilized to identify the underlying cause of your TMJ disorder, treat the dysfunction, and minimize your symptoms. After evaluating your concerns in a consultation, Dr. Schultz can develop a customized treatment plan and determine the most appropriate course of action for your unique needs.

What does TMJ treatment with Dr. Schultz involve?

Treating TMJ can include a number of different stages involving the jaw joints, muscles, tendons, ligaments, and teeth. The first step of treatment involves physical therapy and specific exercises, which are performed to alleviate pain and muscle spasms. Our experienced dentist, Dr. Jeffrey Schultz, may then recommend a splint or nightgaurd be fabricated. The patient will wear the device over their teeth until their bite is stabilized. 

Other treatments to permanently correct TMJ disorder or dysfunction may include:

  • Reconstructive dentistry
  • Orthodontics
  • A selective reshaping of the teeth

In severe cases, when the jaw itself is damaged, surgical treatment may be necessary. Oral surgery is uncommon and should only be considered as a last resort of treatment.

Does TMJ have anything to do with teeth grinding?

Many people grind their teeth while they sleep; this is called nocturnal bruxism. While nighttime grinding can be related to TMJ disorder or dysfunction, it is just as likely to be caused by stress. Besides disrupting sleep, night grinding can damage your teeth and jaws.

If you wake up in the morning with a sore jaw or your partner notices the noise, please mention this to Dr. Schultz. A simple night guard may be able to solve your problem.

The first step is to call the Schultz Center for Dentistry to arrange a consultation. Dr. Schultz will perform a comprehensive evaluation and discuss what steps he recommends going forward.

If you have any questions about TMJ disorder, our team would be happy to help you with your concerns. Please contact our practice today if you have any questions, or if you would like to schedule a consultation.