TMJ, also abbreviated TMD, stands for temporomandibular joint disorder. This condition can cause a number of different symptoms, and can be easily misdiagnosed. Dr. Ryan Clancy at Cosmetic & Esthetic Dentistry is an experienced neuromuscular dentist, and can help to identify and diagnose TMJ symptoms and work to create an effective treatment plan.
What Is TMJ?
TMJ occurs due to problems with the temporomandibular joint, which is the hinge that allows your jaw to move. This joint is highly complex, and can become damaged or misaligned by improper bite mechanics. This can happen through:
- Teeth grinding
- Broken or worn down teeth
- Improperly placed tooth restorations
- Trauma to the jaw
- Missing teeth
Dr. Clancy can help pinpoint the cause or causes of your TMJ in a thorough examination, and recommend a long-term treatment plan to help alleviate your pain.
Symptoms of TMJ
TMJ symptoms can be highly varied, which can lead to misdiagnosis since not all of the symptoms are localized to the jaw. Common symptoms of TMJ include:
- Chronic headaches or migraines
- Jaw popping, clicking, or grinding
- Neck and shoulder pain
- Ringing in the ears
- Eye pressure
- Sinus problems
Many people suffering from TMJ turn to chiropractics, painkillers, and jaw stretches to try to relieve the pain, which can be debilitating in some cases. While these treatments may work temporarily, they do not address the root cause of your symptoms and can’t provide long-term relief. Working with a neuromuscular dentist to find the proper alignment of your jaw is the best way to permanently relieve symptoms.
Suffering from TMJ symptoms can decrease your quality of life and lead to problems getting enough sleep or nutrition due to the pain. In addition, taking too many painkillers is bad for your overall health and can lead to addiction. Let us help you find a long-term treatment and improve your quality of life.
Chronic headaches, including migraines, cluster headaches, and tension headaches, can all have a root cause in TMJ. The jaw is complex, with a network of muscles, nerves, tissue, and bone that are linked to every area of your face – and running through all this is the trigeminal nerve, which is the longest nerve in your body.
Strain caused by a misaligned jaw can cause tension in the muscles and put pressure on the trigeminal nerve, which in turn can cause chronic headaches. If you have been suffering from headaches with no relief, it may be due to a misaligned jaw. TMJ is actually a fairly common cause of headaches that is unfortunately overlooked by many people.
If your headaches are causing you constant pain and discomfort, don’t hesitate to call Dr. Clancy for a consultation. He will examine your jaw and determine if TMJ is a possible culprit, and how it can be fixed if so.
If you are suffering from TMJ symptoms, you will need to see a qualified neuromuscular dentist for a diagnosis. Dr. Clancy utilizes some of the latest neuromuscular dentistry technologies in order to provide a diagnosis and find the best position for your jaw.
First, Dr. Clancy will listen to your symptoms and medical/oral history. If your symptoms line up with typical TMJ symptoms, he will ask you if you grind your teeth or if you’ve had restorative dental work done recently. He may also ask if you’ve had any trauma to the jaw.
He will then examine your jaw and teeth to look for potential culprits that could be causing jaw misalignment, such as worn-down or missing teeth.
Dr. Clancy utilizes the TENS (transcutaneous electical nerve stimulation) device in order to stimulate your facial muscles and help your jaw relax into a natural and comfortable position. He also uses K7 technology to map how your jaw moves while relaxed, which will help him to find the best treatment approach in order to help your jaw move and rest comfortably.
TMJ diagnosis technologies are not uncomfortable or painful, and are invaluable in helping Dr. Clancy formulate the best treatment plan for your individual case.
Treatment for TMJ can involve a number of different approaches, depending on what’s causing your jaw misalignment. Some of the more common treatment approaches can include:
- Orthotic Device: A customized orthotic device can help keep your jaw in a comfortable position with less pain. You may need to wear this device 24/7 or just at night. Some patients find that they are happy with just the orthotic device, while others would prefer to have dental work done to permanently restore their bite.
- Night Guard: If the reason for your TMJ is clenching and grinding at night, we may recommend a night guard to prevent your teeth from grinding together. Night guards are a common treatment for bruxism, and can be a TMJ solution for patients whose bruxism is closely tied to their TMJ.
- Restorative Dental Work: In many cases, we can correct a misaligned bite through restorative dental work or correction of previously done restorative work. We may recommend dental crowns, bridges, implants, fillings, or even full mouth reconstruction depending on your needs.
- Orthodontics: Sometimes, your teeth may need to be straightened and re-aligned through orthodontic treatment such as Invisalign in order to fully treat your TMJ.Your TMJ treatment plan will be fully customized for your unique needs, and may take months before completion depending on what is needed. It’s important to be patient and to fully commit to your treatment plan for best results.Dr. Clancy will help to relieve your pain from the very beginning, with temporary treatments such as muscle relaxants, heat, jaw exercises, and eating soft, easy to chew foods that don’t put too much strain on your muscles. These treatments are only temporary, though, and once your pain has receded, he will embark on full, permanent treatment.
LVI Training for TMJ Diagnosis and Treatment
Dr. Clancy trained in neuromuscular dentistry at the Las Vegas Institute for Advanced Dental Studies (LVI), which is considered one of the best dental training institutes for post-graduate studies in cosmetic and neuromuscular dentistry. LVI fellows have completed a rigorous curriculum covering the most advanced technologies and techniques, and are committed to continuing education to keep abreast of the latest and best ways to treat their patients.
Neuromuscular dentistry requires special training to recognize how the muscles, bones, nerves, teeth, and gums all work together and to be able to ascertain what is going wrong and treat it in a holistic manner. Your teeth can affect more than just your mouth, and a specialist in neuromuscular dentistry will be able to recognize when this occurs.
Does Insurance Cover TMJ Treatment?
If you need TMJ treatment, insurance may cover part of it. How much, if any, is covered depends on your individual insurance plan. Here at Cosmetic & Esthetic Dentistry, we accept most major insurance plans, and will work with your insurance company to get you an estimate of coverage.
If your insurance does not cover as much of your treatment as you would like, we also offer financing plans to help you cover the cost of your TMJ treatment plan. We work with CareCredit and Lending Club, both of which offer 0% and low APR financing plans of different lengths depending on your needs and budget.
Getting treated for TMJ and finally having relief from chronic pain and headaches is well worth the cost for most of our patients. You can’t put a price on such a dramatic increase in quality of life. If you are concerned about budget, please talk to Dr. Clancy and our patient coordinator about your concerns so we can help work something out for you.
Schedule Your TMJ Consultation
If you have been suffering from undiagnosed chronic pain in your face, neck, jaw, shoulders, or back, come see us as soon as possible. Call Dr. Clancy at (781) 396-8558 to schedule your consultation today.
Leaving TMJ untreated can lead to problems with posture as well as your overall health. We are happy to use all the tools at our disposal in order to diagnose you accurately and help you fix your bite and alleviate your pain.
We serve patients in Woburn, Winchester, and the Greater Boston Area.