Temporomandibular joint disorder, or TMJ disorder, affects the function of the jaw joints. The common condition can cause pain, headaches, and severe damage to the teeth. At Living Life Dentistry in Knoxville, TN, Dr. Gary Kinder offers conservative, non-surgical treatments to comfortably realign the jaw and reduce symptoms. With decades of experience offering comprehensive care, Dr. Kinder can help identify the source of your problem, and create an individualized treatment plan to meet your needs.
Causes, Symptoms, and Diagnosis
TMJ disorder occurs when there is trauma or damage to the jaw joints or the disk that cushions them. Although there is no specific known cause of the disorder, it can result from conditions such as injury, wear and tear, or arthritis.
Many of our patients have found relief from their symptoms with a custom oral appliance.
All the oral structures work together in harmony for optimal health. When the jaw joints are not functioning as they should, it can lead to muscle fatigue, swelling, or tooth erosion, among many other issues. Patients who develop the condition may experience mild or severe symptoms, which can be acute or chronic. Some of the common symptoms of TMJ disorder include:
- Jaw, face, back, or neck pain
- Facial swelling
- Tooth pain or sensitivity
- Bruxism (teeth grinding)
To obtain a proper diagnosis, Dr. Kinder will perform a complete assessment during your initial consultation. Your medical and family history will be discussed in detail, along with any symptoms you are experiencing. Dr. Kinder will palpate the jaw joints and surrounding muscles to assess for any abnormalities, such as popping or clicking of the jaw. In addition to an oral examination, x-rays and scans will be taken to evaluate the health of the jaw joints and the connective tissues.
TMJ Disorder Treatment Options
Once a diagnosis has been confirmed, Dr. Kinder will discuss your treatment options with you. There are a variety of methods used to treat TMJ disorder. Your specific treatment plan will depend on your unique situation.
The most common treatment for TMJ disorder is a custom oral appliance. A mouth guard will keep the teeth slightly apart to prevent teeth grinding, and will place your jaw joints in a healthier, more comfortable position. Depending on the severity, some patients may only need to wear the appliance during sleep.
In order to fabricate a mouth guard, Dr. Kinder will take impressions of your teeth. These impressions will be sent to our trusted dental lab where a skilled technician will craft your appliance. It is important to wear a guard that is custom-made for your mouth so you can experience the greatest benefit. Many of our patients have found relief from their symptoms with a custom oral appliance.
Other Non-Surgical Options
There are other non-surgical treatments available as well. Oftentimes, a bite adjustment will be performed in order to improve balance and relieve pressure points. A combination of relaxation techniques, muscle-relaxing medications, and jaw exercises may also be beneficial.
TMJ disorder can interfere with routine activities and have a negative impact on your quality of life. If you are experiencing symptoms such as jaw pain, headaches, or tooth sensitivity, schedule a consultation with Dr. Kinder to find out if a custom mouth guard could be a solution for you. To reach a team member, contact the practice online anytime, or call our office at (865) 539-6030.