Over the years, there has been so much controversy regarding the subject of Neuromuscualar Dentistry. Because controversy leads to misinformation and confusion, I would like to take a moment as a certified TMJ Expert in Los Angeles, and provide answers to questions that so many patients have regarding TMJ, or Temporomandibular Joint pain.
The symptoms I see most in my patients include chronic pain in the face (primarily in the jaw and mouth) and ears, difficulty chewing, headaches, and tenderness and locking, popping jaw joints. I often find that this pain can interfere with my patients’ lives in such a matter that it is hard for them to complete every day activities, and because of the stigma around treatment for TMJ, they don’t know where to go to get the help that they need, especially for the long term. Most of my patients actually end up self-diagnosing and find me online by searching their symptoms.
TRUTH: There are many things you do that can cause TMD, some that you might not even notice.
Physical trauma, including sports injuries, car accidents, or blows to the face, muscle fatigue, and recently discovered, psychological trauma and stress, are the main triggers of the myofascial pain felt by patients that are affected by TMD, or Temporomandibular Disorders, which are found in the joints, masticatory muscles, the dentition, and the rest of the neuromuscular system that is attached.
FALSE: All patients require surgery to get rid of the pain and other side effects of TMJ.
Some patients, after going through successful initial forms of therapy, don’t even require long term treatment, let alone surgery. I do find, though, that a lot of patients do require a continued TMJ treatment plan. Long term treatment usually involves continued use of a neuromuscular orthosis or splint, but can also require a permanent alteration of the patient’s bite. Both of these are still a lot better than TM joint surgery, which is why I prefer non-invasive routes, versus “going under the knife.”
Neuromuscular Dentistry is vital to proper TMJ care. Occlusal Splint Therapy is one of the most commonly used treatments of TMD. The splint is custom made for the patient’s mouth and simply slips over the upper teeth to keep the teeth from grinding or getting too tense throughout the day and night. The reduction of the load in the affected areas is one of the reasons that the occlusal splints do work in relieving pain in the jaw.
FALSE: You can’t do anything at home to temporarily reduce the pain associated with TMJ pain.
Things you can do at home to help relieve some of the stress in your face and jaw include eating soft foods, avoidance of extreme jaw movements such as yawning, yelling, singing, and chewing gum, not resting your face on your hand, keeping your teeth apart whenever you notice that you’re grinding them or they’re tight, and trying to find relaxation techniques to relieve the pressure and stress in your face.
If you are suffering from TMJ pain, headaches, jaw clicking and popping, facial pain, and you are ready to live life pain-free, call my office TODAY and schedule your TMJ consultation and Neuromuscular evaluation at any of my 3 offices near you.