Tucson TMD/TMJ Treatments

According to the American Dental Association (ADA) more than fifteen percent of American adults suffer from chronic facial pain. Some common symptoms include pain in or around the ear, tenderness of the jaw, clicking or popping noises when opening the mouth, or even headaches and neck aches.

What is TMJ?

We all have TMJ in fact we have two of them. The TMJ is two joints and several jaw muscles that make it possible to open and close the mouth. They work together when you chew, speak, and swallow. These structures include muscles and ligaments, as well as the jaw bone, the mandible (lower jaw) with two joints, the TMJ’s. The TMJ is one of the most complex and unique joints in the body. It rotates, it slides, and it does both at the same time. It does all this on one side or on both sides simultaneously.

What is TMD?

TMD stands for temporomandibular disfunction which occurs when the TMJ is not functioning properly. TMD describes a group of diseases that can involve the jaw joints, the muscles that control jaw movement and the dental occlusion. TMD is a physical disorder arising from an imbalance in the delicate working relationship of the jaw and skull with the muscles that move the jaw, as well as the nervous system associated with these systems. This imbalance results in muscle fatigue, spasm and/or joint dysfunction, and even changes in the teeth, which in turn cause a variety of symptoms, unique for each person.

Occlusal Bite Disease

If you develop TMD you are also at increased risk of developing occlusal bite disease, however occusal bite disease can develop without TMD. Occlussal bite disease does not always present itself so obviously. Wear, sensitivity, cracks, loose teeth, breaking teeth, sore muscles, painful jaw joints, headaches – these and more can be the effects of occlussal bite disease. In its early stages, an obvious injury, like a broken tooth, often hides the underlining cause.

Splint Therapy

Occlusal bite disease and TMD therapy commonly begin with a “splint.” This hard acyclic appliance is fabricated to fit snugly over your lower teeth. This is because we are trying to allow the jaw joint to be at is most restful stable position while at the same time providing an optimal bite on the splint. The splint becomes a temporary perfect bite for you.

Wearing the bite splint is a time of discovery for both you and Dr. Carson. You will experience what a comfortable difference a stable, solid bite can make on your teeth, your muscles, and your jaw. It is very likely that many of the signs and symptoms that you have been having will diminish or even disappear. How long this takes depends on your situation and the signs and symptoms with which you started with. In some rare cases were the jaw joint has been severely damaged, splint therapy may not be completely effective and additional care can be needed.