Do you have headaches, jaw pain and persistent discomfort affecting your neck and shoulders? These are just a few of the most common symptoms of temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD, or TMJ after the joint).
Many patients are frustrated by headaches and other pain until they talk to their dentist about TMJ disorder. Don’t delay: Find out how Meadows Dental Group by Espire can help by calling 303-790-2323. Our office in Lone Tree welcomes patients throughout Colorado, including Highlands Ranch, Centennial and more.
What Is TMJ Dysfunction?
The TMJ connects your lower jaw to your skull. It controls the function of your jaw, including speaking, eating and more.
The TM joint is complex, so injury or strain caused by the following can impair its function and cause symptoms:
- Misalignment of the bite
- Grinding your teeth
- Injury to the jaw or face
- Arthritis and other conditions affecting the joints
The severity of TMD depends on what is impeding joint function and for how long.
What Are The Symptoms of TMJ?
Patients with TMJ might experience recurring pain in the face, neck, shoulders and upper back. Other signs of jaw dysfunction include:
- Chronic headaches
- Popping or clicking noises in the jaw when the joint is in motion
- Limited ability to move the jaw
- Tooth pain – this might be a result of grinding or a symptom of TMD
- Pain or a feeling that the ears are clogged
- Persistent ringing in the ears without stimuli (tinnitus)
- Upper and lower teeth that don’t fit together well (“bad bite”)
You might have spoken to your doctor about some or all of these symptoms. You might even have pursued acupuncture, physical therapy and other treatments to find relief. Meadows Dental Group by Espire can assess your jaw function and recommend solutions that address the root of the problem.
Hear What Our Patients Have to Say!
"I’ve been coming here for quite a few years and I really enjoy the staff and Dr. O’Leary. I’ve had procedures with nitrous which has helped me with my “dental anxiety”. I’ve also had Botox here for my TMJ. You can wear headphones and watch TV to distract you. My husband comes here as well! Everyone is nice and professional." — Carina U.
"When I say I don't like going to the dentist I mean it. I only trust my hometown dentist and anyone else scares me however, it was getting hard to drive 2 hours to see her. So I trusted my coworkers who all go to Meadows Dental Group by Espire. It was a wonderful experience. I have now had my teeth cleaned there twice and they even were able to fit me for a night guard to help with my TMJ disorder. Dr. O'Leary and Dr. Pepper have calmed my nerves and are really educated and knowledgeable." — Ashley J.
"I'm new in the area, and feel lucky to have found this practice! Nancy, Nikki and Dr. Sengewalt are all very personable and informative. I actually learned a lot about my teeth, gums, and TMJ. From what I could tell the equipment is all state-of-the-art, because I've never seen such detailed digital images of my teeth! The exam and cleaning also seemed very thorough. How many people say they had a pleasant experience at the dentist? I did! I HIGHLY recommend Meadows Dental Group by Espire." — Jennifer N.
What TMJ Treatment Options Are Available?
Oral splint therapy is an effective, conservative treatment option for TMJ pain and dysfunction. Our dentists closely examine your bite to assess the way your teeth fit together, identify the motions that cause pain and find a comfortable resting position.
The splint looks and feels like an athletic mouthguard. It repositions the jaw to reduce the stress placed on the TM joints and connected muscles, ligaments and tendons.
If your TMD symptoms stem from a bad bite, our dentists may recommend braces. Orthodontic treatment will straighten your teeth and align your bite. Correcting misalignment with braces will also reduce the pressure on your TMJ.
Though commonly associated with cosmetic treatment, dentists have discovered that precise injections of BOTOX® Cosmetic have helped patients find relief from TMJ dysfunction. BOTOX interrupts the nerve signals between muscles. This makes it an effective way to relieve wrinkles, which develop on the skin over time as a result of muscle activity. However, wrinkles and TMJ are caused by different muscle groups.
It’s important to consult a dentist with experience performing injections in and around the masseter muscle. This muscle plays an integral role in chewing and other jaw functions, so relaxing it is an effective way to relieve jaw pain, but the average medical spa or plastic surgeon doesn’t have the experience to perform TMJ treatment with BOTOX correctly.
Dr. Scott Peppler has completed courses in the use of BOTOX and other injectable treatments. He performs BOTOX injections to relieve TMJ, as well as for cosmetic enhancement.
Patients with extreme TMJ dysfunction may require surgical intervention to repair the jaw joint. If surgery is required, Meadows Dental Group by Espire will refer you to a trustworthy oral surgeon who will discuss treatment options and perform the procedure.
Who is a candidate for TMJ treatment?
Any person who suffers from the symptoms of TMJ disorder mentioned on this page can be a good candidate for a full dental exam and consultation. During this visit, the dentist can identify the frequency and severity of symptoms and how long they have gone on. For mild cases in which symptoms have lasted only a few days or weeks and are found to be related to a habit like bruxism or gum-chewing, the dentist may recommend rest and other home remedies. The purpose of the dental examination is to determine if symptoms are caused by a habit or a structural issue, in which case more involved treatment such as Invisalign may be advisable. Our team is committed to patient-centered care that involves listening and thorough discussion of treatment options. We’re here to help you feel more comfortable.
Is TMJ treatment painful?
No. TMJ itself is painful. The most common methods of treating this disorder include an oral splint and orthodontic correction of bite issues. Both types of treatment can cause temporary discomfort such as soreness or simply an odd feeling as the teeth or jaw are repositioned. In some cases of orthodontic treatment, a patient may take an over-the-counter pain reliever for a day or two. This is usually sufficient to maintain comfort.
What should I expect from my results?
It is important to understand that TMJ is often a chronic condition. An oral splint that works well may need to be worn regularly, indefinitely, to maintain proper jaw positioning that reduces stress on the joint. Botox injections can work very well in many cases, but must be repeated every so often to keep the masseter muscle from once again becoming constantly tensed. Because TMJ can be influenced by various factors, it can be a challenging and frustrating problem to resolve. Our team strives to achieve lasting results using the most conservative therapies available.
Is there any recovery involved with Post TMJ treatment?
Not in most cases. Patients who are referred to an oral surgeon for TMJ surgery may have certain post-treatment guidelines to follow. These are provided by the treating surgeon. For our more conservative, non-surgical treatments, patients may be given a few suggestions for managing soreness or tenderness. These may include eating softer foods for a few days, taking an over-the-counter medication, and taking extra care with their brushing and flossing habits.
What are the risks involved with TMJ treatment?
Our TMJ treatments are conservative and in line with recommendations from organizations like the TMJ Foundation. The primary risks associated with splint therapy include gum irritation, tooth decay, and pain. If an oral splint worsens pain, we want to revisit the structure of the splint and mouth to determine why. The purpose of an oral splint is to find the most comfortable resting position for the jaw and maintain that. Because an oral splint is an added accessory in the mouth, there is a slight risk that bacteria may have more places to accumulate and cause cavities or gum disease. This risk can be managed with good daily oral care. Orthodontic treatment to correct bite issues causing TMJ pain also carry a risk of tooth decay and gum disease. Once again, good oral care is the best preventative measure.
How should I prepare for TMJ Treatment?
Patients for whom non-surgical TMJ treatment is recommended need not take special precautions before treatment. A dentist may suggest a dental cleaning if it has been some time since the last visit. If the dental exam reveals problems like cavities or gum disease, these may also be treated either before TMJ treatment begins or as an ancillary process that coincides with the appropriate therapy to reduce stress on the jaw joints.
Contact Our TMJ Dentists Today
Dr. Peppler and Dr. Joseph O’Leary both have the skill, training and experience to provide a variety of dental services for patients suffering from TMJ pain and dysfunction. Learn about your treatments options by visiting our office in Lone Tree, Colorado.
Call 303-790-2323 today to schedule your comprehensive TM joint exam. Our neuromuscular dentists serve Highlands Ranch, Centennial and other nearby areas.