The temporomandibular joint, or TMJ, is where the jaw joint connects to the base of the skull. It is the joint that controls our chewing. It’s also the first joint that tenses due to stress, trauma, unbalanced bite and a variety of other causes.
Patients with TMJ may experience some of these symptoms:
- Headaches or migraines
- Pain on chewing
- Worn teeth
- Short Teeth
- Moving teeth
- Clicking or popping with the jaw joint
- Limited opening of the mouth
- Muscle pain in the cheek and jaw area
- Muscle pain in the neck, head and upper back
If you are starting to feel one or more of these symptoms it’s time to take TMJ seriously. At the beginning, symptoms are mild and sometimes undetectable to the average person. That is why Dr. Naim incorporates a thorough TMJ analysis as part of her comprehensive examination. Depending on the severity of your TMJ symptoms, Dr. Niam may recommend different treatment options to address your specific needs.
NIGHT GUARD THERAPY
A night guard is a thin acrylic mouthpiece that is worn at night, however may be worn at any time of the day. They can be fabricated to fit over the upper or lower teeth, depending on the needs and the decided design. They can be made of a soft rubbery material or hard specialized material. Night guards work by repositioning the jaw and relaxing the TMJ; the jaw joint. This slight openness not only relaxes the TMJ, but also the facial muscles. It allows for equilibration of the bite, allowing free motion and release of tension in the muscles. Night guards also work to reposition the lower jaw bringing the TMJ into a better alignment. They open the bite and help relieve the stress in the muscles. In addition, the teeth are separated and therefore protected from the grinding and wear that would normally occur.
If TMJ persists more aggressive treatments may be needed like Botox injections in the muscles, physical therapy or surgical intervention.
When regular Night Guard therapy has not worked. Sometimes a more advanced TMJ appliance therapy is recommended. Dr. Naim is one of the few dentists trained in this advanced therapy called; E-Appliance therapy.
The E-appliance is a patented double arch orthotic. Its unique design solves bite problems and their symptoms. It allows us to stabilize and relax the entire masticatory (chewing surface) system.
Other oral appliances cover a single arch to prevent teeth from grinding against one another during sleep, which for most cases is highly affective. However, with more severe grinders and patients with more chronic symptoms of TMJ, it’s not enough. For those patients traditional night guards can reduce certain symptoms, they cannot maintain their effectiveness over a long period of time, due to their inability to stabilize the opposing teeth. E-Appliance becomes the treatment of choice.