TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorder or TMD is so common in our culture, that Dr. Finn automatically evaluates all our patients for it, with a goal of arresting the problem, protecting your teeth from further damage, and correcting any underlying bite malfunction. A little extra stress, a little extra fatigue, a little change in your bite, and you may temporarily cause your whole jaw system to be out of balance. The resulting TMJ disorder or TMD can cause a wide variety of mild to severe symptoms, from jaw clicking and mild discomfort to sharp pain in your temple, ear, jaw, and teeth; it can also lock your jaw open or dislocate your jaw altogether. Muscle soreness in your head, neck, and chronic headaches, often as severe as migraines, may also be common. Please let Dr. Finn know if you are currently experiencing any of the following symptoms.
* jaw pain and/or stiffness
* headaches, usually located at the temples and side of the head
* painful or tender jaw
* difficulty opening the jaw
* pain or fatigue when eating or chewing
* clicking, popping, or clenching sound in jaw joint
* bruxism (gringding of teeth)
* a pattern of breaking or cracking teeth without tooth decay or trauma
*trauma: acute trauma to the jaw such as a car accident or a blow to the face can cause damage to the muscles and/or joints causing loss of function.
* bruxism: bruxism or grinding of the teeth usually occurs when one is sleeping. Bruxing, which is done by the jaw muscles is detrimental to the muscles and by the morning this can be painful from the constant pressure and can be painful due to fatigue. Bruxism is the most common factor found in TMD.
* malocclusion: this just means your bite is not in balance. Sometimes when your teeth do not bite together in harmony it can place pressure on your joints. Missing teeth can contribute to this as well. This misalignment can put pressure and strain on the jaw muscles.
* stress: emotional stress often plays an integral role in the development of TMD. This occurs due to 2 basic reasons; stress increases both the severity and duration of bruxism while asleep, and also during times of stress, your adaptibilty and pain threshold are lessened, and as a result you are more likely to experience symptoms of TMD if other factors already exist.
* medications may be prescribed (including anti-inflammatories) to relieve muscle pain and swelling.
* practice relaxation techniques. Because emotion and stress play an important role in TMD, often we find that the patient is under stress and they are unaware of it. Anything that helps releive stress is helpful, you may want to try excercise, reading, or listening to music.
* excercises of the jaw and neck area will help stretch the muscles. Please practice these in a warm, moist environment like the shower or bath.
* occlusal splint, also called a night guard is a common treatment for TMD. Dr. Finn is using the new FDA approved NTI device is designed to protect the teeth from further wear. Nightguards are designed to keep the teeth from touching, resulting in reduced grinding at night which allows the muscles to relax and rest. The NTI is worn only at night, except in severe cases where the patient may need to wear it all day. It is much easier to wear than the traditional nightguard. The NTI is custom fit and is worn only over your two front teeth, thus preventing the posterior teeth to not touch at all. This alignment supresses clenching by over ninty percent, giving the jaw muscles a rest. Also because the teeth are out of contact no bruxing occurs. The NTI is a small, plastic, removable appliance which makes clenching virtually impossible and after a few days or weeks, your clenching reflex is suppressed. Morning headache pain, neck pain, sore jaw, migraine pain and other pains associated with bruxing will begin to resolve and soon disappear.