Shawn L. Thompson, DDS, Inc.
(418) 287 - 3205

Temporomandibular Joint Disorders

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Do I have TMJ / TMJD?

Do you or someone you know suffer from Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction? Also known as TMJ or TMJD, this condition impacts at least 12 percent of the adult population in American. The condition is more common in females of child-bearing age.

TMJ is a dysfunction of the muscles and joints that move the jaw. It is associated with people with stress and poor sleep habits, as well as those who clench their teeth at night.

Signs and symptoms of TMJ disorders include:

  • Pain or tenderness in your jaw
  • Aches pain in and near the ear
  • Difficulty chewing or discomfort while chewing
  • Aching facial pain
  • Difficulty opening or closing the mouth due to locked joint
  • Clicking sound or grating sensation when you open your mouth or chew.
Woman leaning forward with elbows propped on a desk while cradling her head in hands.

Jaw Pain or Symptoms of TMJ?

TMJ causes jaw pain, but so do other medical conditions. For example, pain associated with coronary artery disease (angina) or heart attacks radiates to the jaw. Arthritis or Trigeminal Neuralgia, a nervous system disease, can also cause extreme facial and jaw pain. So how do you know if your symptoms are from TMJ?

We recommend scheduling an appointment for evaluation and looking for jaw pain in combination with these other symptoms:

  • A "popping" sensation
  • Tooth pain
  • Difficulty chewing
  • Tenderness and aching of other areas of the face or neck

TMJ Diagnosis & Treatments

Does your TMJ disorder cause persistent jaw pain? Symptoms of TMJ often include headaches, sensitivity, worn and broken teeth, and difficulty opening or closing your jaw completely We diagnose TMJ and provide treatment to help ease the pain associated with this condition.

A thorough examination starts your TMJ treatment. We check your joints and muscles for tenderness, clicking, and movement issues. There are many treatment options. We recommend trying simple treatments before you consider more invasive options.

Diagnosis Using 3D Scanning

Using the SICAT Function of our 3D imaging system, Dr. Thompson is able to view anatomically accurate jaw movement in 3D to help diagnosis the cause of TMJ. This all-digital tool is specific to each individual patient and reduces the amount of adjustment needed when using an appliance to treat TMJ. This also saves you time as a patient because we can capture data from the scan, diagnosis the problem, and develop the treatment plan all in one appointment. MJ with these simple lifestyle changes:

Treatment for Mild Symptoms of TMJ

Treat your TMJ with these simple lifestyle changes:

  • Eat softer foods
  • Avoid chewing gum and biting your nails
  • Treat pain with heat packs
  • Relaxation techniques such as meditation or biofeedback
  • Exercises to strengthen your jaw muscles
  • Medications prescribed by our staff

Treatment for Moderate TMJ Symptoms

If you find that basic treatments do not ease your pain, we recommend a more active approach. We can make a custom-fitted dental appliance you wear to help correct your TMJ-related symptoms.

A dental splint decreases the times you clench and grind your teeth. This reduces your TMJ-related jaw and muscle pains. Some people call these appliances night guards because you wear them while you sleep.

An anterior positioning appliance is another option. You wear this device at night to move your jaw forward. This relieves pressure and aids in disk re-positioning. To help align your jaw, we recommend an orthotic stabilization appliance. You wear these all day or just at night, depending upon your specific needs.

We also can treat TMJ without the use of dental appliances. In some cases, we adjust and reshape your teeth to fix an uneven bite. We suggest the most appropriate therapy for you based on the suspected cause of your TMJ.

Treatment for Severe Cases of TMJ

Is your TMJ too severe for standard treatments? You have options. We start with a full evaluation and can make a custom-fitted dental appliance for you to wear to help correct your TMJ-related symptoms. Occasionally, we recommend physical therapy and additional treatment by a specialist when your pain and discomfort does not respond to mild treatments or dental appliances.

In rare cases, surgery the most effective option way to relieve the pain associated with your TMJ. We only recommend these surgical procedures if:

  • You have significant reduction of the mouth opening
  • You have a dislocated and non-reducible joint
  • You have severe degeneration

Speed Recovery & Prevent Recurring TMJ

We are here to partner with you in the relief of your TMJ-related pain. Your active role in the process speeds up healing, so you can get back to your daily activities without the pain and discomfort!

Follow these tips for a speedy recovery:

  • Maintain good posture throughout the day to relieve stressed muscles.
  • Relax your jaw and facial muscles throughout the day. If you clench or grind your teeth, this helps stop that habit.
  • Practice relaxation breathing until it becomes a habit. This relieves muscle tension in your spine and jaw and helps lower blood pressure.
  • Place a warm pad or towel on your face/jaw for 10-15 minutes. This relaxes your muscles.
  • Apply ice for 10 minutes to relieve sharp or burning pain and/or moderate to severe temporal headaches.
  • Massage your jaw muscles in a circular motion to relieve muscle spasms and headaches.
  • Open your mouth wide and hold for five seconds. Repeat these gentle stretches five times.
  • Get a good sleep each night. This is essential for your body’s self-repair mechanism.

Avoid these things to prevent irritation or flare ups:

  • Chewing gum
  • Hard or chewy foods
  • Making your jaw pop out of habit
  • Clenching or grinding
  • Sleeping on your stomach or putting direct pressure on your jaw with your pillow.
  • Getting wound up prior to bedtime by watching TV, playing video games, arguing with your spouse, stressing about life or worrying about the next day.
  • Slouching – sit up straight!
A man and a women asleep in bed.

Suffer from TMJ? Let us Help

Don't suffer from the symptoms of TMJ. Our staff is here to help you successfully treat this disorder and find the peace you deserve. Contact us today to get started.

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