The TMJ, or temporomandibular joint, refers to two joints that connect the jaw to the skull, enabling the jaw’s hinge-like motion. When these joints are functioning as they should be, no pain or symptoms are present. However, when affected by an injury or a degenerative condition, the TMJ often exhibits symptoms of soreness, discomfort and limited motion. This is known as TMJ disorder, or TMD. TMJ specialists focus specifically on treating TMJ disorders and are experienced in a number of different treatments and therapies that can reduce symptoms, or even eliminate them completely.
What kind of doctor treats TMJ pain?
The most qualified and experienced medical professional to treat TMJ pain is a dentist who specializes in treating TMJ disorders, such as the dentists at Koala® Center for Sleep & TMJ Disorders. With our practice specifically focused on diagnosing and treating TMJ disorders, we are able to more effectively find a solution for your TMJ pain.
What is the main cause of TMJ?
The temporomandibular joint combines a hinge action with sliding motions, enabling the jaw’s motion and biting force. The bones that interact in the joint are covered with cartilage and the shock-absorbing disc that separates them normally keeps the movement smooth. Painful TMJ disorders can occur if:
- The disc erodes or is improperly aligned
- The joint’s cartilage is damaged by arthritis
- The joint is damaged by physical trauma or other impact
In many cases, the cause of TMJ disorders is not clear, which further necessitates a professional medical evaluation for a proper diagnosis. Risk factors associated with developing TMJ disorders include:
- Arthritis, such as rheumatoid and osteoarthritis
- Jaw injury
- Long-term grinding or clenching of teeth
- Certain connective tissue diseases
What are the symptoms of TMJ?
Signs and symptoms of TMJ disorders may include:
- Jaw joint pain
- Jaw joint noise or clicking
- Neck pain
- Limited mouth opening
- Ear congestion
- Ringing in ears
- Difficulty swallowing
- Loose teeth
- Clenching or grinding
- Sensitive teeth
- Postural problems
- Tingling in fingertips
- Hot & cold teeth sensitivity
- Nervousness or insomnia
- Pain in one or both temporomandibular joints
- Aching pain in and around the ear
- Difficulty chewing or pain while chewing
- Aching facial pain
- Locking of the joint
What are the TMJ treatment options?
There are several treatment options for TMJ, including:
Transcutaneous Electric Nerve Stimulation — Transcutaneous electric nerve stimulation, or TENS, re-trains the jaw muscle, helping it find the correct resting position.
Oral Appliances — Oral appliances are the most common treatment for TMJ, allowing millions of people to have a good night’s sleep. These devices are custom-made and are designed and fitted at a dentist’s office. An oral appliance called a neuromuscular orthotic is created after receiving TENS in order to promote healing and maintain the new, corrected bite position.
Dental/Orthodontic Solutions — In addition to correcting the jaw’s position, procedures may be performed to correct the position of the teeth. This includes wearing long-term orthotic and orthodontic treatments. Repairing damaged teeth may also be necessary, such as placing crowns or veneers on the affected teeth, or creating a neuromuscular denture. With our experience and technology in neuromuscular dentistry, we can help you achieve a healthier bite, a more beautiful smile and very importantly, eliminate pain caused by TMJ disorders. We serve patients from Bloomington IL, Normal IL, Yuton IL, Barnes IL, and Towanda IL.
If you or someone you love is looking for a top-rated TMJ specialist in Bloomington, IL, come to Koala® Center for Sleep & TMJ Disorders today! We are dedicated to providing the highest level of care at each and every visit. Call us today to book an appointment. We look forward to serving you!