TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorders are a family of problems related to your complex jaw joint. If you have had symptoms like pain or a “clicking” sound, you’ll be glad to know that these problems are more easily diagnosed and treated than they were in the past. These symptoms occur when the joints of the jaw and the chewing muscles (muscles of mastication) do not work together correctly. TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint, which is the name for each joint (right and left) that connects your jaw to your skull. Since some types of TMJ problems can lead to more serious conditions, early detection and treatment are important.
Trouble With Your Jaw?
TMJ disorders develop for many reasons. You might clench or grind your teeth, tightening your jaw muscles and stressing your TM joint. You may have a damaged jaw joint due to injury or disease. Injuries and arthritis can damage the joint directly or stretch or tear the muscle ligaments. As a result, the disk, which is made of cartilage and functions as the cushion of the jaw joint, can slip out of position. Whatever the cause, the results may include a misaligned bite, pain, clicking, or grating noise when you open your mouth or trouble opening your mouth wide.
Do You Have a TMJ Disorder?
- Are you aware of grinding or clenching your teeth?
- Do you wake up with sore, stiff muscles around your jaws?
- Do you have frequent headaches or neck aches?
- Does the pain get worse when you clench your teeth?
- Does stress make your clenching and pain worse?
- Does your jaw click, pop, grate, catch, or lock when you open your mouth?
- Is it difficult or painful to open your mouth, eat, or yawn?
- Have you ever injured your neck, head, or jaws?
- Have you had problems (such as arthritis) with other joints?
- Do you have teeth that no longer touch when you bite?
- Do your teeth meet differently from time to time?
- Is it hard to use your front teeth to bite or tear food?
- Are your teeth sensitive, loose, broken or worn?
The more times you answered “yes”, the more likely it is that you have a TMJ disorder. Understanding TMJ disorders will also help you understand how they are treated.
There are various treatment options that Drs. Weierbach or Genetti can utilize to improve the harmony and function of your jaw. Once an evaluation confirms a diagnosis of TMJ disorder, Drs. Weierbach or Genetti will determine the proper course of treatment. It is important to note that treatment always works best with a team approach of self-care joined with professional care.
The initial goals are to relieve the muscle spasm and joint pain. This is usually accomplished with a pain reliever, anti-inflammatory, or muscle relaxant. Steroids can be injected directly into the joints to reduce pain and inflammation. Self-care treatments can often be effective as well and include:
- Resting your jaw
- Keeping your teeth apart when you are not swallowing or eating
- Eating soft foods
- Applying ice and heat
- Exercising your jaw
- Practicing good posture
Stress management techniques such as biofeedback or physical therapy may also be recommended, as well as a temporary, clear plastic appliance known as a splint. A splint fits over your top or bottom teeth and helps keep your teeth apart, thereby relaxing the muscles and reducing pain. There are different types of appliances used for different purposes. A nightguard helps you stop clenching or grinding your teeth and reduces muscle tension at night and helps to protect the cartilage and joint surfaces. An anterior positioning appliance moves your jaw forward, relieves pressure on parts of your jaw, and aids in disk repositioning. An orthotic stabilization appliance is worn 8-10 hours/day or just at night to move your jaw into the proper position. Appliances also help to protect from tooth wear.
What About Bite Correction or Surgery?
If your TMJ disorder has caused problems with how your teeth fit together, you may need treatment such as bite adjustment (equilibration), orthodontics with or without jaw reconstruction, or restorative dental work. Surgical options such as arthroscopy and open joint repair restructuring are sometimes needed but are reserved for severe cases. Drs. Weierbach or Genetti does not consider TMJ surgery unless the jaw can’t open, is dislocated and nonreducible, has severe degeneration, or the patient has undergone appliance treatment unsuccessfully.
Weierbach & Genetti Prosthodontics
I accompanied my father to his visits throughout the course of his dental implant journey. Dr. Weierbach took great care to explain all of our available options and how each process would work. Ultimately, we chose fixed implants and are incredibly happy with that decision. The staff was amazing and really took the time to make us feel comfortable and informed along the way. From check-in to check-out, the team at Weierbach & Genetti made it a personal experience and my father never felt like “just another patient.” Most importantly, the implants turned out great! I highly recommend Dr. Weierbach and team for dental implant needs.
- Amanda C
I cannot recommend Dr Weierbach enough!! The staff at the office are all soooo kind and friendly. Everyone went above and beyond to help me and welcome me to the office. Dr Weierbach helped treat a TMJ issue that was leaving me in discomfort daily. After one visit to the office I truly feel like my life has changed! I do not have that daily discomfort and am so thankful for Dr Weierbach and his staff. Very appreciative for all they have done for me!
- Ashlee E
Excellent service and exceptionally positive and friendly staff.
- Carolene B
I love connecting with people and have found there’s absolutely no better way to instantly do so than by flashing a fabulous smile. An abundance of gratitude to the genius and superb prosthodontics talents of Dr. John Weierbach and his cohesive team. They embraced me as family and I felt like I was the most important patient whenever I was in their presence. As a woman with a passion for fashion and accessories, I can tell you that there’s no better accessory than a stunning smile. Thank you to Dr Weierbach and his team for the unique skill sets they bring to the treatment process. Antionette (Toni) Sabatine-Schreder Lancaster, PA
- Antionette (Toni) S
I had experienced 7 weeks with another practice after going for an exam, x-rays, and cleaning. The experience finally included an extraction and placement of a bridge. The aftermath left an uncomfortable mouth, ill-fitting bridge, poor customer service and communication and a large measure of stress. At Dr. Genetti's office, the entire staff was extremely caring, accommodating, knowledgeable, competent, and professional. Even though she was cleaning up someone else's mess, I was her first priority and she strived for satisfaction. She even called me in the evening to see if I had any questions and if I was OK. The experiences between the two offices was like night and day. My mouth is now fine and I cannot say enough about the service and experience I had. It is so good to know there are competent and caring doctors in the profession. I would recommend this group totally and appreciatively.
- Lee H