With several years of advanced training in the field of dentofacial orthopedics, our orthodontists are well versed in temporomandibular joint function and understand the complex relationship of dental bite and jaw development on joint health.
Connecting the jaw to the skull at a point located just in front of each ear, the left and right temporomandibular joints (TMJs) are complex structures that allow for oral function. While each joint is well equipped to handle the stress as the jaw moves during chewing it can still become dysfunctional when overused, inflamed or injured. Factors that can increase one’s risk of developing a TMJ problem include bruxism or teeth grinding, or degenerative changes associated with arthritis and other inflammatory musculoskeletal disorders. A TMJ disorder can exhibit a wide range of uncomfortable and debilitating symptoms such as clicking, cracking or popping of the jaw, earaches, ringing in the ears (tinnitus), headaches, facial pain, back and neck pain, and muscle spasms which can lead to jaw locking and limited jaw movement.
When evaluating patients for the presence of a TMJ disorder, or TMD, our orthodontist will review your medical and dental histories and then perform a thorough clinical assessment of joint symptoms and function. Special radiographic imaging and other diagnostic tests will be ordered as needed. Depending on the diagnosis, orthodontic treatment of TMD may include oral appliances such as nightguards or stabilization splints to alleviate strain on the joints. We may also recommend bite adjustments or more comprehensive orthodontic care to achieve long-term bite improvement and facilitate joint recovery and function. Methods of stress reduction, relaxation techniques and medications may also be recommended as needed to help alleviate symptoms.