Van Alstine Family Dentistry wants you as healthy as possible, and our work does not stop when your teeth do. Not only do we work with your gums and other soft tissues, but we also work hard to ensure your jaw is as strong as possible as well. We offer TMJ, or temporomandibular joint, therapy as well as all of our dental procedures here. These can be particularly useful for those who have previously undiagnosed pain, as several different jaw issues can result in seemingly unrelated problems.
What Is A TMJ?
When you chew, the hinge joint at the back of your jaw opens and closes to bite down and grind your food. This joint is called your temporomandibular joint. It’s shorter name is TMJ. This is a special joint as its primary function is vertical motion, but it can also move in other directions as well. This means that it is at times susceptible to damage and can heal incorrectly.
Problems With Your TMJ
Some of the more common issues that accompany TMJ issues are caused by improper alignment. This can result in chronic headaches, clicking or pain when you open your jaw, or incorrect bite pattern. This means that not only does it to damage to your jaw but can hurt your teeth as well. TMD, or temporomandibular disorder which results in severe TMJ issues, can cause unbearable daily pain and can cause the joints to not only be overused but to heal incorrectly as you chew and speak differently trying to compensate for the pain. TMD, though, is completely treatable!
Treating issues with the TMJ can come in a variety of forms. The first of these is medications. We can prescribe meds to soothe inflamed tissues or muscle relaxants to soothe overworked muscles. Another option is splinted. These are used to prevent your top and bottom teeth from coming together completely. This means that the chewing and grinding that can damage your jaw (and your teeth) simply isn’t possible. Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) is another method that can be performed in your home or in our office that uses low electrical impulses to soothe the area.
We can also use an ultrasound treatment, trigger point injections, or in some cases, even acupuncture helps. In extreme cases, however, sometimes the best option is surgery. In these situations, we can realign the jaw so that it comes together naturally and how it should rather than painfully. This relieves improper tension and muscle ache. This type of surgery is in response to when the problem is structural within the joint itself. This allows us to fix the problem from the source.
If you are experiencing chronic jaw or head pain and worry that misalignment may be the cause, give us a call today. We here at Van Alstine Family Dentistry would be more than happy to help you find the proper treatment solution. Set up a diagnostic appointment today and we can walk you through our process.