Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction Treatment Q & A
If you have jaw pain or a problem with your TMJ, then you probably have questions about it. Koala® Center for Sleep & TMJ Disorders can help. Here’s a Q & A about TMJ disorder and how to address it! We have 10 TMJ clinic locations. We serve patients from all over the USA in Bloomington IL, Peoria – Dunlap IL, Lafayette IN, Mishawaka IN, Columbia MO, Kansas City MO, Albuquerque NM, Brewster NY, El Paso TX and Wausau WI.
Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction Treatment (Also known as TMJ)
Jaw pain and TMJ disorder can be more complicated than you may be thinking. It can be confounding for a person experiencing the issue and it can even be difficult for professionals to fully understand the issue. Patients and some medical professionals alike might have questions about TMJ disorder, like how to address it, and we’d like to help here at Koala® Center for Sleep & TMJ Disorders, so here’s a Q & A for you about TMJ disorder as well as some details about treatment! Let’s start with who you should speak with if you have jaw pain or if you suspect TMJ disorder.
What is the best doctor for TMJ disorder and jaw pain?
For jaw pain, any kind of TMJ issue, or TMJ disorder (TMD), the best doctor to see is a TMJ doctor. This kind of medical professional is fully capable of interpreting jaw-joint-related symptoms and determining what could be causing them, as well as treating these causes and TMJ disorder itself.
It may be that the cause of your symptoms is something like an unhealthy habit like nail biting, or a prior trauma, and it could be that the best treatment for you is a simple therapy. A TMJ doctor is especially capable of helping you. A dentist is also very capable of helping, and you’ll find both kinds of professionals at a clinic like ours. When TMJ disorder is affecting sleep, a sleep and TMJ disorder clinic like ours is especially capable of helping!
Is TMJ a medical or dental problem?
This is a great question, and the answer is that TMJ disorder, or TMD, could be considered one or the other, or both, but generally, it’s considered a medical problem. Typically, insurance providers will agree with this and consider the disorder a medical problem.
The one quality every case of TMD has in common is that there is a dysfunction of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). There could be an underlying medical or dental problem causing a case of the disorder, like arthritis or teeth damage, and it may be that aging or genetics is a factor in a case. TMD is a bit complicated, with different underlying causes and different contributing factors, but once one of our professionals has examined your case, we’ll be able to provide you with a better answer as to what kind of problem you’re having.
What are the symptoms of TMJ disorder?
A person with TMJ disorder will experience symptoms like:
- Facial pain
- Frequent headaches
- Jaw pain
- Pain in the ears
- Ringing in the ears
- Congestion in the ears
- Jaw popping/clicking
- Temperature sensitivity
- Swallowing problems
- And/or related issues
If you’re experiencing any of those issues or if your child is, then it might be a case of TMJ disorder, and you should speak with a professional about it. The symptoms may come and go or worsen in certain circumstances.
What causes TMJ to flare up?
Your jaw pain or TMJ disorder symptoms likely flare up due to tension or dysfunction in your temporomandibular joint (TMJ). Your dysfunction or tension may be due to a prior injury, teeth misalignment, a bad habit like teeth grinding, arthritis, or a related issue. In some cases, even stress or hormonal changes can cause TMJ pain and flare-ups. A TMJ doctor can identify what’s causing your pain or disorder and what aggravates it.
What happens if TMJ is left untreated?
It’s definitely important to treat TMD. If a case of the disorder is left untreated, the pain and other symptoms can worsen, and so can the underlying condition causing the disorder. It can eventually lead to joint inflammation and damage, or even the development of an airway sleep disorder like sleep apnea. In turn, sleep apnea can lead to life-threatening conditions like heart disease. These complications, though, can be prevented if proper testing and treatment are provided.
How do you test for TMJ disorder?
There are different methods for testing. The first step is for a professional like one of ours here at Koala® Center for Sleep & TMJ Disorders to examine the patient’s jaw, observing range of motion, and then to check for pain and other symptoms. After, if the professional deems it necessary, they can provide a dental X-ray, a CT scan, an MRI, or 3-dimensional imaging. This will give the professional a better idea of what’s going on inside the jaw joint and around it. We’re fully capable of providing such testing and treatment at our clinic.
How do you treat TMJ disorder?
Professional treatment is definitely necessary for TMD. It could be that the only treatment you need is to do simple TMJ exercises and stretches a professional can easily teach you. These activities can relieve symptoms in the short or long term, so they can help you during a flare-up or help manage your pain and other symptoms indefinitely. In some patient cases, electrical stimulation can help, but if you want the most effective solution for your TMJ disorder, you’ll want to consider oral appliance therapy.
Oral appliance therapy is very easy to do, so it’s easy to begin and commit to. The therapy uses a simple and comfortable, custom-made oral insert a patient wears at night. At night is when the conditions that cause and contribute to TMJ disorder usually occur. The insert is really easy to use and maintain and can be taken out for eating and brushing, but most importantly, the insert and the therapy are proven to work in many cases.
What is the most effective treatment for TMJ disorder?
The most effective treatment is oral appliance therapy, and here’s why. After about three months of doing the therapy, many patients will be 90% symptom-free. This can be really significant for these people, especially if their TMJ disorder or problem is causing a condition like sleep apnea.
What if I have both TMJ disorder and Obstructive Sleep Apnea?
TMJ disorder and obstructive sleep apnea should be treated simultaneously for best results. The patient would wear the neuromuscular orthotic during the day, and an oral sleep appliance at night. Oral appliance therapy for sleep apnea is indeed proven and approved by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine as a first line of treatment for mild and moderate obstructive sleep apnea. It can also be used in severe cases where the patient refuses to wear a CPAP, or where the CPAP is non-effective. It involves a different type of appliance that one wears during sleep preventing the lower jaw and tongue from falling back toward the throat during sleep causing a blockage of the airway. It’s also recommended by our TMJ doctors here at Koala® Center for Sleep & TMJ Disorders.
If you or someone you love is suffering from a TMJ or sleep apnea problem, why wait any longer? You can receive testing, and possibly get treated with oral appliance therapy. The first step is only a phone call away.
How can I learn more about TMJ disorder or get help with my TMJ disorder?
If you or someone you love has any kind of TMJ-related issue and you’d like to learn more about it or get care, reach out to us here at Koala® Center for Sleep & TMJ Disorders. We can tell you a bit more over the phone or get you in for a consultation with one of our TMJ doctors.
Our clinic has TMJ doctors at our locations throughout the areas of Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, New Mexico, New York, Texas, and Wisconsin. Please see our Locations page for the clinic location closest to you and its address and contact information, then give us a call at that location. If you’d prefer to, you can call our head office at (855) 977-0400 or book your consultation with us online. We’d be happy to see you or a loved one, and we’ll be even happier once we’ve helped you with your issue!
We hope you’ve found this Q & A helpful, and we look forward to seeing you soon here at Koala® Center for Sleep & TMJ Disorders!