TMJ and TMD are often used interchangeably in reference to disorders impacting the alignment of the jaw. Falling under the umbrella term of temporomandibular joint disorder/dysfunction, these issues can result in chronic pain, tooth loss, and even changes to your posture when not properly addressed.
If you suspect you are suffering from TMJ dysfunction, Dr. Gerald Marlin can help. Offering a range of safe and effective treatments, Dr. Marlin can customize a solution that restores alignment, corrects the bite, and produces lasting comfort. Call Prosthetic Dentistry of Washington D.C. at 202-244-2101 to schedule a consultation and learn more.
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Symptoms of TMJ Disorders
Symptoms of TMD that occur directly in or around the joint include:
- Clicking, popping, or grinding noises in the jaw
- Pain or swelling around the jaw joints
- Difficulties opening and shutting the jaw
- Uneven tooth wear
Other symptoms of this neuromuscular dental issue that may occur in the head and face include:
- Generalized facial pain
- Pain behind the eyes
- Sinus pressure and pain
- Ear pain and ringing
Left untreated and TMJ disorders may result in:
- Neck, shoulder, and back pain
- Forward projection of the neck
- Postural changes
- Digestive issues
Poor posture compresses the abdominal muscles and can lead to serious digestive problems. While not a symptom of TMD, digestive distress brought about by postural changes is not an uncommon consequence of TMJ Disorders.
Unfortunately, many of the symptoms of issues impacting the TMJ do not seem to be related to the jaw. This may result in people seeking treatments that mask the pain, but fail to correct the problem. If you have long struggled with pain in the face, head, or jaw, you may have an undiagnosed TMJ disorder.
At your initial consultation, Dr. Marlin will perform a thorough examination of your occlusion (bite) and all surrounding and supporting muscles. If your bite is not properly aligned, he can perform a simple occlusal adjustment by lightly shaping biting contacts that are higher. In some cases, simply providing harmony between teeth when in contact is all it takes to effectively eliminate TMD, though many other treatment options exist for patients who require a more progressive solution.
Night Guards for Neuromuscular Dental Issues
One of the biggest risk factors for TMJ dysfunction is bruxism (tooth grinding). Signs of grinding, such as recessed gums or uneven tooth wear may not be noticeable to you, but they can be detected during your biannual cleanings and examinations. If you are a grinder, an occlusal guard may be useful. While not a full TMJ treatment, this option may work well for patients whose primary issue is bruxism.
The next step is a night guard. Worn while you sleep, these devices prevent tooth grinding while gently holding your jaw in its ideal alignment. Over time, this helps retrain muscles, allowing for a natural bite position and an elimination of the painful and limiting symptoms of TMD.
If a night guard is recommended for you, Dr. Marlin will take an impression of your teeth from which a custom fit, durable acrylic night guard will be fabricated. We have found that, along with proper occlusion of your natural teeth, a well-fitting and functioning night guard can allow for a significant decrease in headaches, difficulties biting and chewing, and similarly painful and unpleasant issues related to jaw misalignment.
To schedule a TMJ evaluation, call 202-244-2101. Dr. Marlin serves the Bethesda-Chevy Chase and Washington D.C. areas, including Fairfax and Alexandria, and welcomes patients from all corners of the world. Visit our Fly in for Service page to learn more.