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.
No one treatment can resolve TMJ disorders completely and treatment takes time to become effective. Dr. Weierbach can help you have a healthier and more comfortable jaw.
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 Dr. Weierbach can utilize to improve the harmony and function of your jaw. Once an evaluation confirms a diagnosis of TMJ disorder, Dr. Weierbach 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 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. Dr. Weierbach 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.
I am very grateful for Dr. John Weierbach and for each of his staff members, for their excellent quality of dental care, the personable interaction with each one, and to be able to experience amazing solutions to difficult dental issues. When I first came to Dr. Weierbach, I was having intense pain and teeth problems. Dr. Weierbach was able to help me when I really needed answers and solutions, to relieve me of the pain that I was experiencing. It was a journey of healing: After a very thorough examination, Dr. Weierbach discovered a hidden cracked tooth. After the tooth was removed, another problem surfaced, which was a bone infection. Dr. Weierbach treated me faithfully and persistently till the infection cleared up. I then started to have TMJ issues, with extreme pain in my jaw, temples, and forehead. Dr. Weierbach, in his wisdom, gave me wonderful dental care, by measuring and fitting me with a mouth piece which I used for several months during the day as well as the night. It helped over time to relieve the pain and pressure. He also ordered physical therapy for me to take, which was extremely beneficial. Over time, and with treatments, the TMJ subsided, for which I was very grateful. After months of healing, it was time for reconstruction for my teeth. Again, Dr. Weierbach in his wisdom drew up a plan to bring wholeness in structure for my teeth. I received a bridge on each side of my upper teeth, and later on, four new front teeth that added to the beauty of my smile, which I am very grateful for. The care given by the dental assistants was great. They were very skilled in their abilities with dental assistance with Dr. Weierbach as well as doing mouth impressions and other dental care. The office staff was wonderful, kind, personable, and helpful with making appointments and scheduling needs. I would highly recommend Dr. John Weierbach and his staff to anyone who has a need for excellent dental care. Martha H. Martin
- Martha M
12 years ago I had a set of 3 implants installed on my lower jaw to secure a new prosthesis. Everything was wonderful until recently while chewing something popped. I just knew something was seriously wrong. My regular dentist, the amazingly talented Jim Smallwood, took x-rays and checked everything securing the teeth and couldn't detect any problem. Good, I'm thinking. Several months later while eating a cookie, 7 of the front center teeth broke off my prosthesis. Dr Smallwood took me in immediately thinking we would take an impression and have another prosthesis made in the next couple days. When he removed the prosthesis it didn't take long to discover that all three of the implants had the screw broken off in the implant. Jim very quickly realized this is going to call for what Jim described as the best in the area....Dr John Weierbach. John made room for me in his schedule immediately. While Jen was getting me seated and waiting for John to come into the room Jen said very confidently that when all else fails in dental care the patient ends up in Dr Weierbach's chair. John had the impossible task of removing broken off screws out of implants. The technology does not really exist to execute a task like that. John became obsessed over the next 30 days, in about 8 separate sittings, working endless hours to figure out how to get those screws out. John collaborated with the supplier of dental supplies and ended up using equipment like an auto mechanic might use in micro miniature form. John never considered the possibility that failure to accomplish the objective was an option. John found himself getting up in the middle of the night with this challenge on his mind and worked with mockups trying to come up with a strategy to extract the screws. Every one of the members of his team became part of the cheering squad. I have NEVER seem a more dedicated, eminently skilled and caring team and how we celebrated when the mission was finally accomplished. Had he not been successful at removing those broken screws it would have meant removing those implants, replacing with new implants and a new set of lower teeth and all the costs that go with it. I'm forever indebted.
- Mel H
Overall, I have had a great experience since I started going a few years ago. All the staff and Dr. Weierbach take time to get to know you as a person but also how to best meet your needs in the area of dental work. Everyone was very patient and supportive throughout the process of getting my porcelain crowns. I am beyond happy with the result of my teeth. They look so natural and are a huge improvement from before! I definitely couldn't stop smiling after I left the office! I would definitely recommend them for anyone that is interested in improving their smile!
- Brittany B
I would highly recommend Dr. Weierbach especially to patients who haven't been able to get a definite diagnosis for their problem. His expertise and thoroughness was even worth going out of network to find someone to identify the source of my tooth pain. The inclusive follow up visits to ensure my crown was perfect, the amenities and the exceptionally congenial staff were all "icing on the cake"
I was overly impressed with Dr. Weirbach and his staff. I have anxiety when going to a dentist because I'm pain sensitive. I had no anxiety after the first visit because they made sure that my comfort level was #1. I will not have another dentist. The staff always greets you with a smile and they are happy to work with you.
- Debbie M
The dental device that I got to was to help with my snoring when I travel instead of carrying along a CPAP machine. I used it for 2 weeks while out of the country and it worked great. What a great alternative rather than that machine! Thanks John!
- Doug G
Lots to smile about thanks to Dr Weierbach and his staff!!!!!!
- Diane G
Dr. Weierbach changed my life. I have always hated my teeth and have avoided smiling. Now my teeth are beautiful and white and I have a permanent smile on my face.
- Lisa G
This practice is by far the best I've ever encountered after living in major cities such as Chicago, Philadelphia, and NYC. Dr. Weirbach deserves a 10 out of 10 for all medical providers I have ever met with. Rating: 10 out of 5!
- Nancy B
everyone was very professional in what they were doing, my experience here at weierbach was great, if I had it to do over I would be glad I chose to come here
- Scott H