TMJ & TMD

Grove City Dentist Serving Columbus, Dublin, Hilliard, Ohio

Do you have jaw pain, face pain, neck pain, or back pain? Do you get headaches for seemingly no reason, whether migraines or other headaches of migraine-like intensity? Do you have ear pain or ringing in your ears (tinnitus)? These and a number of other hard-to-pinpoint symptoms may be signs of TMJ, temporomandibular joint disorder, sometimes called TMD. In TMJ, a misalignment of your jaw can lead to overactive or overdeveloped muscles, pinched nerves, and misaligned vertebrae that can impact your body in surprising ways.

If you have one or more TMD / TMJ symptoms for which you have previously seen a doctor, chiropractor, or other specialist, but have not gotten relief, Dr. Raymond Sheridan may be able to help. If you are in Grove City or elsewhere in the Columbus, Ohio area, please contact Sheridan Dental for a free initial consultation.

TMJ Symptoms

TMJ is often called "The Great Imposter" because its symptoms can be so variable and widespread that many people, including doctors, have difficulty tracing them back to their source in the jaw joint. TMD / TMJ symptoms may include:

  • Headaches (can be of migraine-like intensity)
  • Jaw pain
  • Difficulty or pain chewing
  • Clicking or popping jaw
  • Tooth pain
  • Tooth wear
  • Teeth clenching
  • Face pain
  • Eye pain
  • Pressure above, behind, or below the eyes
  • Neck pain
  • Upper back pain
  • Shoulder pain
  • Tingling, pain, or numbness in the arms and hands
  • Tinnitus (ringing, buzzing, or roaring in the ears)
  • Balance problems or vertigo

TMJ can also contribute to or even cause snoring and obstructive sleep apnea. Many people find that learning about TMJ symptoms sheds light on mysterious conditions.

Understanding TMJ

The temporomandibular joint is the joint on either side of your head, where the jaw meets the skull. It is a complicated joint, capable of movement in many directions, and located at a complex intersection of muscles, nerves, bones, and ligaments. When the jaw is out of position, often as a result of a bad bite (malocclusion), it can put extra stress on the muscles, which have to work harder to support the jaw. Because the muscles are fighting against the bone and tooth configuration, they never rest, and over time the muscle strain can lead to jaw, tooth and facial pain.

The strain may also cause the muscles to overdevelop and put pressure on the nerves in the area. These nerves carry signals--including pain signals--between the brain and the face and ears. When pressure is put on the nerves, it can cause pain, numbness, or tingling in the face. It can lead to ringing in the ears or a loss of balance.

The neck vertebrae can even be pulled out of alignment by muscles attempting to compensate for the misalignment of the jaw. The spinal column is like a big stack of building blocks, and once one is out of balance, it threatens the balance of the whole stack. As the spine becomes jumbled it can put pressure on or pinch nerves that leave the spine to connect the brain and your extremities. A poorly aligned spine can also lead to back strain and shoulder pain.

TMJ Diagnosis

TMJ / TMD diagnosis can be achieved by looking at the jaw and teeth. Diagnosis can be facilitated using the Myotronics K7 system that combines three forms of instrumentation to give Dr. Sheridan important information about the exact condition of your jaw joint. The Computerized Mandibular Scanner precisely tracks your jaw motions so that you can see whether your jaw is moving smoothly throughout its range of motion. The Electromyograph measures the muscle activity in your jaw joint so that you can see how far out of alignment your jaw is from the position of maximum rest for your muscles. The Electrosonograph records the sound of your jaw moving so that you can hear for yourself whether the jaw is moving smoothly or if there is any grinding or popping.

TMJ Treatment

The first goal of TMJ treatment is to alleviate your pain. This is accomplished first by the use of TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation), which relaxes the jaw muscles whose overexertion is responsible for much of your discomfort.

Once temporary relief is achieved, you can talk to Dr. Sheridan about more permanent solutions. A good first solution is the use of an orthotic (mouthpiece) that you can wear for part of the day or overnight to hold your jaw in an appropriate place to let your muscles relax and restore balance. For many people, an orthotic is a good permanent solution.

For some people, an orthotic does not provide sufficient relief or is not a satisfactory solution. These people may desire bite reconstruction, where dental restorations are used to construct a balanced bite.

TMJ is a painful condition, but you don't have to suffer with it. If you are in Grove City, Hilliard, Dublin or elsewhere in the Columbus, Ohio area, please call or email Sheridan Dental today to schedule your free TMJ consultation.

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