Some of the symptoms that may be linked to a TMJ disorder are:
- Radiating pain in your face, jaw, or neck
- Stiff jaw muscles
- A jaw that clicks, pops, or locks so you can’t move it at all
- A change in the way your upper and lower teeth fit together
What Is TMJ?
TMJ is the acronym for temporomandibular joint—the joint that connects your lower jaw (mandible) to the bone on the side of your head (temporal). The joint helps perform the movement we need to talk, chew, and yawn. When there is disorder in the joint, you can experience a lot of discomfort and pain. Problems can arise when misaligned teeth cause strain on the joint and the chewing muscles.
TMJ Treatment Options
Sometimes, minor issues may resolve in time with self-care that can include applying heat to the joint and muscles of mastication, doing jaw exercises, or taking over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication. In other cases, an oral appliance, such as the E-Appliance and/or an NTI device custom made by our Pasadena dentist—Dr. Arash Azarbal—may be needed to treat the disorder.
Dr. Azarbal has the training, skill, and experience to determine if a TMJ disorder is causing your pain, and determine the necessary steps needed to alleviate the discomfort.
Relieving Your TMJ Pain
If you are experiencing the symptoms associated with this disorder, it is important to have your bite and TMJ evaluated. Letting the problem linger can lead to even more problems. Call us to schedule an appointment, or request an appointment online.
Occlusal Disease/Unbalanced Bite
One of the many causes of TMJ is an unbalanced bite. How your teeth come together is called occlusion, and malocclusion can lead to many other issues. Symptoms that may be linked to occlusal disease/unbalanced bite:
- Tooth sensitivity
- Change in bite, alignment, and fit of teeth
- Chipped and thinning teeth
- Abfractions (grooves and notches on teeth, and root structure along the gums exposing dentin)
- Clenching and grinding teeth
- Headaches and pain that radiates in your face, jaw, or neck
- Stiff jaw muscles
- A jaw that clicks, pops, or locks
What Is Occlusal Disease/Unbalanced Bite?
An unbalanced bite or poor fitting bite in which the teeth are misaligned can cause the TMJ and the muscles of mastication (chewing) to be under strain where the bite comes together.
Strain and spasm in the muscles of mastication, combined with stress, can trigger clenching or grinding (bruxism). Teeth can become damaged, and TMJ symptoms worsen. Often, patients also experience head and neck stiffness, as well as pain in the morning when they awake.
Due to excessive bite forces and interference, a major consequence of an unbalanced bite is significant damage to tooth structure. We often see multiple teeth with vertical fracture lines; chipped, thinning enamel; excessive wear facets; grooves and notches on teeth; generalized wear in root structure; damage to enamel; and refractured restorations.
These issues can be addressed by aligning teeth with traditional orthodontics or Invisalign®. It needs to be ensured that teeth are functioning correctly in the bite and that the bite fits correctly. When necessary, the fit of the bite is restoratively balanced by adding new surfaces and removing interferences.
Often, the most important (first) step is to use the correct night guard appliance to disclude the bite, prevent strain on the TMJ system, and prevent further damage to the TMJ disk, muscles, and teeth. Generally, night guards that have a deprogrammer like the NTI and E-appliance work well in these scenarios, because they prevent the bite fit from causing strain.
If you want to find out if you have a TMJ disorder, or if you know you have the disorder, and you want relief, call us to schedule an appointment, or request an appointment online.