TMJ | TMD Treatment Pasadena TX
What is TMJ/TMD?
You think of your bite as your teeth, but a balanced bite actually requires the temporomandibular joint, the teeth, and the masseter muscles to all work together in harmony. When all is properly aligned, chewing is quiet and you don’t have pain in the jaw or lower face. But if one or more of the three components of your bite force the jaw into misalignment, you now have problems with every movement of the jaw. This can lead to pain across the jaw and face, and it can radiate down into the neck and shoulders. You are suffering from temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD).
You may have seen this denoted at TMJ, but that acronym refers to the temporomandibular joint itself. Proper identification of this group of related disorders that results from problems with the temporomandibular joint, the teeth, and the masseter muscles is a temporomandibular joint disorder or TMD.
Doctors or dentists who do not have specialized training with the temporomandibular joint and the corresponding disorder often misdiagnose the pain associated with TMD. Dr. Covell has pursued continuing education at the renowned Las Vegas Institute for Advanced Dental Studies to expand his ability to successfully treat TMD in his patients.
What Are The Symptoms Of TMD?
TMD can lead to chronic pain. It’s most common in younger people, between the ages of 20 and 40, occurring more in women than men. These are the typical symptoms associated with TMD:
- Pain or tenderness in your face, jaw joint area, neck, and shoulders, or in and around the ears when you chew or otherwise open your mouth
- Jaws that get “stuck” or “lock” either open or closed
- Clicking, popping, or grating sounds in the jaw joint when you chew or simply open or close your mouth
- Consistent headaches
- Regular jaw stiffness
- Ear ringing (tinnitus)
- Unintentional teeth grinding
- A tired feeling in your face
- Upper shoulder pain
What Are The Causes Of TMD?
Diagnosing TMD can be difficult unless the dentist has experience with neuromuscular dentistry, as Dr. Covell does. Symptoms such as earaches, headaches, and facial pain can be incorrectly attributed to sinus infections, tooth decay, even gum disease. Causes can be related to problems with the bite, but also from subtler issues such as stress and nightly teeth clenching during sleep. Traumatic injury to the jaw joints or related muscles can also lead to TMD. Some causes of TMD are still unknown, although research points to a possible genetic predisposition. Here are some causes of TMD:
- A misaligned bite between the upper and lower jaws
- Grinding or clenching the teeth
- Movement of the soft cushion or disc between the ball and socket of the joint
- Arthritis in the joint
- Stress, which can cause a person to tighten facial and jaw muscles or clench the teeth
- Injury to the jaw, head, or neck impacting the TMJ
- Missing or thoroughly worn teeth creating uneven biting surfaces
What Is Bruxism?
Bruxism, or teeth-grinding, occurs when the jaws are clenched and the teeth grind against one another. Stress and anxiety are often blamed, but sleep disorders, an abnormal bite, and missing or crooked teeth may also be caused. If left untreated, bruxism can lead to headaches, a sore jaw, or painful, loose or fractured teeth. It may sometimes lead to TMD. Click to learn more.
How does Dr. Covell treat TMD?
In the majority of cases, TMD is treated with non-surgical methods. Dr. Covell usually seeks to ensure the patient’s jaw is in proper alignment before deciding on the course of treatment. His treatment approaches can involve everything from using anti-inflammatory medications to giving the patient exercises to do at home to help relieve stress on the TMJ.
Here are some of the methods Dr. Covell uses to treat TMD:
- Cosmetic dentistry — To correct alignment, we can replace missing teeth with dental implants or bridges, crown overly worn teeth, or move the teeth with orthodontics. This can involve widening constricted arches.
- Splints or night guards — Night grinding and clenching is often the main factor in TMD. To combat this, it’s important to put the jaw in the correct position at night. To do this, we fabricate plastic mouthpieces that fit over the upper and lower teeth. These are usually worn at night.
- Exercises — Tightening the jaw muscles and clenching the teeth is a common cause of TMD problems. We have various jaw exercises that stimulate and relax the jaw muscles.
- Medication — Muscle relaxants and anti-inflammatory medication can be effective.
- Lifestyle changes — Stress and anxiety are often root causes; stress reduction techniques are important.
- Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) — Small electrical pulses are delivered to the jaw muscles through a small wand. These pulses stimulate the nerves, encouraging the muscles to relax and the jaw to fall into alignment.
- Botox injections — While Botox is known for its ability to erase wrinkles on the upper third of the face, it can also be used for TMD patients. The FDA has approved Botox for TMD treatment, and it is very effective for relaxing the overused muscles that lead to TMD pain.
“A highly professional setting with the most current methods and practices. Appointment reminders via text and email are a huge plus. The staff is well trained and personable. Dr. Covell is highly skilled, comforting, and compassionate.“
– Harvey Price
“I was so nervous to look for a new dentist when I moved to Pasadena, and I am so happy that I’ve found Dr. Covell. He has the best chairside manner and really is a fabulous dentist. It’s amazing that he was able to meet with me on such short notice.”
– Nick Moore
If I don’t treat my TMD, can it go away on its own?
That depends. For some people, they may be in the midst of an incredibly stressful time in their life. When these stressors resolve, the patient may stop grinding his or her teeth and the TMD may go away. But if the jaw is out of alignment, the condition needs treatment. Correction may be as simple as creating a custom nightguard to wear while sleeping to stop teeth grinding and clenching, or treatment may be much more involved. Every case is unique. In extreme cases, surgery could be necessary.
Can TMD affect other areas of the body?
The pain from TMD often spreads away from the jaw. Pain can encompass the entire face. From there it can affect the neck, shoulders, and even the arms. The ears can become tender. Headaches are typical. Tinnitus, or ringing in the ears, is common.
Why should I see Dr. Covell for my TMD?
Because TMD pain does spread out beyond the jaw, the source of the pain is often misunderstood, and more importantly, misdiagnosed by many dentists and doctors. Dr. Covell is very familiar with TMD and the operation of the temporomandibular joint. He has pursued extensive continuing education in this area of dentistry at the prestigious Las Vegas Institute for Advanced Dental Studies. He has a long history of treating patients in Pasadena and the surrounding areas and has reviews and testimonials from the patients he has helped get through their TMD.
Contact us to learn more about TMJ | TMD Treatment Pasadena TX