Understanding TMJ

What is TMJ?

TMJ disorder or syndrome is the pain in the jaw joint. The TMJ is connected to the lower jaw of the skull that is in front of the ear. When normal functions of the jaw such as talking, chewing, and swallowing become difficult and you experience pain in the face, neck or ears and have headaches, the temporomandibular joint syndrome is the probable diagnosis.

What are the Causes of TMJ?

There are several possible causes of TMJ which include arthritis, dislocation or injury of the jaw, tooth and jaw alignment, stress and teeth grinding. The tendency to constantly clench or grind the teeth can be related to stress.  Oftentimes people who react to stress with anger, pain, frustration, and aggression suffer from teeth grinding.  Since it’s a harmful habit that wears down biting surfaces, misaligns the bite and can lead to serious dental problems, we screen each patient for warning signs:

  • Unexplained sensitivity in teeth and gums
  • Jaw pain
  • Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) pain
  • Popping of the jaw
  • Clicking of the jaw
  • Tense muscles
  • Headaches
  • Excessive wear or flatness on teeth
  • Worn enamel, partially exposed and sensitive tooth interior (dentin)
  • Tongue indentations

There is no specific cause for teeth grinding, but stress is one of the most common. Also, sleep arousals associated with sleep apnea as well as GERD (gastrointestinal reflux disease) cause clenching and grinding.

What are the Treatment Options for TMJ?

Frequent clenching of the jaws and grinding teeth can move the entire jaw out of balance. Dr. Sowell can treat the disorder with a revolutionary little acrylic mouthpiece called the NTI-tss device. It’s one of several TMD/TMJ treatments he offers to reduce or eliminate TMD pain, TMJ pain, popping of the jaw or clicking of the jaw.  The device causes the muscles to relax in a stable position so that you and those hyperactive malfunctioning muscles can rest. This will eliminate bruxism-related headaches and/or various kinds of TMJ/TMD pain within just a few days of the device fitting. The anterior deprogrammer or mini-deprogrammer illustrated below has been known to decrease clenching and grinding even more than the full arch appliance and is more comfortable for our patients.

Mini-deprogrammer

TMJ Therapy with Dr. Mark Sowell in Plano and Dallas TX

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Schedule an appointment with Sowell Cosmetic and Implant Dentistry and let Dr. Mark Sowell provide a diagnosis and discuss TMJ treatment options with you.