Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction

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Frequently headaches, facial pain, neck pain and pain in front of the ear can be traced to what is called temporomandibular joint dysfunction or "TMD".

This condition should be thought of as a problem within the entire chewing system, not just the jaw joint. Temporomandibular joint dysfunction may be caused by misalignment of the jaws within the temporomandibular joint, or by disharmony between the teeth and jaws. If the joint is painful or tends to click or catch, this could be an early warning sign that you may have problems within the temporomandibular joint. Other symptoms may be muscle pain or limitation of jaw movements. There are often other symptoms that the patient does not detect. These include any or all of the following: tooth wear, receding gums, notching of the teeth at the gum line, and adverse bony changes within the joint.

When a patient reports to us with signs and symptoms of TMJ dysfunction, we first do an evaluation, including history and a clinical examination. If our doctor feels we can help, we will likely order further diagnostic data, such as dental casts mounted on an articulator and images of the jaw joints. In some cases, tomographic X-rays are adequate. In other cases, the patient may be asked, however, to have a cone beam CT scan done. A cone beam CT scan requires that you be referred to an imaging lab. If that is the case, you will be referred to the proper imaging center.

Cone Beam Scan

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Tomographic X-ray of the TMJ

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Treatment of TMJ function usually involves splint therapy. A splint is a very effective removable appliance that is custom made for each individual. We will adjust a splint as needed to reduce painful symptoms and stabilize the entire chewing system.

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