Sacramento, Roseville, Rocklin, Folsom, and Citrus Heights, California
TMJ is a condition that can cause a number of painful or debilitating symptoms that can diminish your quality of life or even impair your ability to function on a daily basis. But what is it?
TMJ is temporomandibular joint disorder, and is sometimes also called TMD, TMJD, or other abbreviations. TMJ occurs when the muscles, bones, and other components of the temporomandibular joints are not all functioning in harmony. Because of the unique nature of the jaw and its joints, when this joint is not functioning properly it can cause a number of seemingly unconnected symptoms throughout your body.
TMD and TMJ Specialist, Dr. David Miller is an experienced lecturer and can explain the origin and nature of TMJ very well in person. This page is a great starter resource, but to really understand TMJ, we invite you to schedule a consultation and get an explanation from Dr. Miller himself.
Like No Other Joint
The temporomandibular joints are different from every other joint in your body. They are designed to move in six different ways to allow for the complex motions of chewing and talking, but they also must support the jaw, which simply hangs down. The combined demand for flexibility and strength makes the temporomandibular joint susceptible to dysfunction. Sometimes this dysfunction comes as a result of injury or disease that can either displace or degenerate the disc of cartilage that helps the joint move freely. Other times, the dysfunction may be due to teeth that do not fit together properly, causing the joint to stay at an unnatural or uncomfortable position.
No matter the cause, once the dysfunction starts, it can create a cascade of effects throughout the body. This is because the temporomandibular joint is also unique in its placement. The joint is located at a complex intersection of nerves, muscles, blood vessels, and your airway. When the temporomandibular joint is out of order, it can interfere with other tissues in the area, causing both local and distant TMJ symptoms.
Learn more about how TMJ is diagnosed on our Questions about TMJ page.
TMJ treatment seeks to reverse the cause of TMJ and therefore eliminate all its symptoms. The goal is to restore the jaw joint to balance, which will reduce muscle soreness, remove pressure from nerves and blood vessels, and allow balance to be restored in adjacent systems. The most immediate way to accomplish this is by using an electrical massage known as Transcutaneous Electric Nerve Stimulation (TENS). TENS relaxes the muscles in the region, and provides short-term relief from many or all symptoms.
Next, we attempt to determine why the joint was out of place. If it was simply displaced due to mild trauma or stress, relaxing the muscles may allow it to slip back into place, requiring one or a few sessions of TENS. We may also recommend exercises or other things you can do at home to help prevent a return of symptoms.
If, however, the jaw is out of place due to malocclusion–poorly fitting teeth–we may need to address it with more vigorous treatment. Many times, we recommend an orthotic–mouthpiece–that can hold your jaw in a proper position for enough hours that you avoid a recurrence of symptoms. In most cases, you will be fitted with an orthotic that you can wear at night while you sleep.
For more serious cases, we may have to address poorly-fitting teeth using dental restorations, including dental implants to replace missing teeth, crowns to build up worn down teeth, or orthodontics to move teeth into a better fitting arrangement. In other cases, surgery on the joint itself may be required to provide relief.
Why Advanced Dental Concepts for TMJ
As you can see, TMJ is a complex condition and effective treatment requires education, experience, and intuition. Dr. David Miller is a recognized expert on TMJ and an instructor at the Las Vegas Institute for Advanced Dental Studies, where many dentists go to learn about TMJ. He is also one of the few dentists to achieve what is known as the Grand Slam of TMJ, advanced standing in the four major TMJ organizations. He has 30 years of dental experience, and is a compassionate and understanding dentist that patients genuinely enjoy visiting.
Don’t suffer with TMJ–please schedule your consultation today.