TMJ Disorders in Denver, CO
TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorders are a family of problems related to your complex jaw joint. If you have had symptoms like pain or a “clicking” sound, you’ll be glad to know that these problems are more easily diagnosed and treated than they were in the past. These symptoms occur when the joints of the jaw and the chewing muscles (muscles of mastication) do not work together correctly. TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint, which is the name for each joint (right and left) connecting your jaw to your skull. Since some TMJ problems can lead to more serious conditions, early detection and treatment are essential.
No treatment can completely resolve TMJ disorders, and treatment takes time to become effective. Dr. Rossow, Dr. Turner, and Dr. Noce can help you have a healthier and more comfortable jaw with TMJ treatment in Denver, Colorado.
Trouble With Your Jaw?
TMJ disorders develop for many reasons. You might clench or grind your teeth, tighten your jaw muscles, and stress your TM joint, or you may have a damaged jaw joint due to injury or disease. Injuries and arthritis can damage the joint directly or stretch or tear the muscle ligaments. As a result, the disk, made of cartilage, functions as the “cushion” of the jaw joint and can slip out of position. Whatever the cause, the results may include a misaligned bite, pain, clicking, or grating noise when you open your mouth or trouble opening your mouth wide.
Do You Have a TMJ Disorder in Denver?
- Are you aware of grinding or clenching your teeth?
- Do you wake up with sore, stiff muscles around your jaws?
- Do you have frequent headaches or neck aches?
- Does the pain get worse when you clench your teeth?
- Does stress make your clenching and pain worse?
- Does your jaw click, pop, grate, catch, or lock when you open your mouth?
- Is it difficult or painful to open your mouth, eat, or yawn?
- Have you ever injured your neck, head, or jaws?
- Have you had problems (such as arthritis) with other joints?
- Do you have teeth that no longer touch when you bite?
- Do your teeth meet differently from time to time?
- Is it hard to use your front teeth to bite or tear food?
- Are your teeth sensitive, loose, broken, or worn?
The more times you answer “yes,” the more likely you have a TMJ disorder. Understanding TMJ disorders will also help you understand how they are treated.
There are various treatment options that Drs. Rossow, Sales, and Noce can recommend improving the harmony and function of your jaw once an evaluation confirms a diagnosis of TMJ disorder. It is important to note that treatment always works best with a team approach of self-care joined with professional care.
The initial goals are to relieve the muscle spasm and joint pain. This is usually accomplished with a pain reliever, anti-inflammatory, or muscle relaxant. Steroids can be injected directly into the joints to reduce pain and inflammation. Arthrocentesis is a valuable treatment option in many “Closed Lock” cases with good results. Self-care treatments can often be effective as well and include:
- Resting your jaw
- Keeping your teeth apart when you are not swallowing or eating
- Eating soft foods
- Applying ice and heat
- Exercising your jaw
- Practicing good posture
Stress management techniques such as biofeedback or physical therapy may also be recommended, as well as a temporary, clear plastic appliance known as a splint. A splint (or night-guard) fits over your top or bottom teeth and helps keep your teeth apart, thereby relaxing the muscles and reducing pain. There are different types of appliances used for various purposes. A night-guard helps you stop clenching or grinding your teeth, reduces muscle tension at night, and helps to protect the cartilage and joint surfaces. An anterior positioning appliance moves your jaw forward, relieves pressure on parts of your jaw, and aids in disk repositioning. You may wear it 24 hours a day to help your jaw heal. An orthotic (a specialized mechanical device to support or supplement weakened or abnormal joints or limbs) stabilization appliance is worn 24 hours/day or just at night to move your jaw into proper position. Appliances also help to protect from tooth wear.
What About Bite Correction or Surgery?
Suppose your TMJ disorder has caused problems with how your teeth fit together. In that case, you may need treatment such as bite adjustment (equilibration), orthodontics with or without jaw reconstruction, or restorative dental work. Surgical options such as arthroscopy and open joint repair restructuring are sometimes needed but are reserved for severe cases. Drs. Rossow and Sales do not consider TMJ surgery unless the jaw can’t open, is dislocated and non-reducible, has severe degeneration, or the patient has undergone appliance treatment unsuccessfully.
Call our office today to schedule a consultation if you think you have a TMJ disorder in Denver, Colorado.