Are your headaches or migraines usually in the morning? Do you experience limited mobility in the jaw or hear a popping or clicking noise when you open or close your jaw?
These signs are often misdiagnosed by patients and physicians, when they may, in fact, be the result of a treatable dental problem or temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD). Few dentists and physicians are trained and experienced in diagnosing and treating TMJ disorders. Dr. Robert Gauthier provides TMJ treatment to patients in Northborough, MA near you. He considers how your bite fits together and how that relationship contributes to problems like headaches, earaches, and tooth wear. Dr. Gauthier can help restore patients’ smiles and well-being with TMJ therapy.
What is TMJ?
TMJ, or the temporomandibular joint, is a joint connecting the upper and lower jaw, responsible for the opening and closing of the mouth. TMJ is also a general term given to a condition in which the jaw joints or teeth do not fit together properly. Dr. Gauthier has focused a considerable amount of his post-graduate training on the diagnosis and treatment of TMJ disorders, along with the complex dental problems that occur as a result of prolonged TMJ dysfunction. He will perform a comprehensive evaluation of all aspects of your occlusal system and an analysis of your bite to determine if you suffer from a TMJ disorder.
Common Causes and Symptoms of TMJ Disorders
There is no single cause of TMJ dysfunction. Any number of factors or combination of factors may be to blame including:
- Stress, anxiety, and other environmental factors (leading cause)
- Trauma to the head, neck, or face
- Trauma to the TMJ joint or arthritis
- Hormonal changes or imbalances
- Malocclusion (where the jaws do not line up correctly resulting in bite problems)
As with the causes, symptoms of TMJ disorder vary significantly among patients. TMJ symptoms often mask themselves or are similar to those of other medical conditions, making diagnosis extremely difficult. Common symptoms of TMJ disorder include:
- Shoulder, neck, facial pain
- Clicking or popping when opening or closing jaw
- Locked jaw or limited mobility in the jaw joint
- Teeth clenching, teeth grinding, often accompanied by tooth wear
- Chronic earaches
Treating TMJ Disorders
TMJ treatment depends entirely on the patient and the individual symptoms they are experiencing. Dr. Gauthier takes a comprehensive approach to TMJ treatment, and offers these solutions to his patients:
- Oral Appliances: An oral appliance is a removable device, usually worn at night, to keep the teeth and jaw in proper position and prevent teeth grinding and teeth clenching. An oral appliance may be a dental splint, mouthguard, or nightguard.
- Cosmetic and Restorative Dentistry: Cosmetic and restorative dental treatments can help teeth that are damaged as a result of TMJ dysfunction. Teeth may be corrected with dental bonding, porcelain veneers, dental crowns, or other types of dental restorations. Many procedures can be completed in a single visit using Apex Dental’s advanced CEREC technology.
- Botox: Although Botox is typically seen as a purely cosmetic treatment, it can also be used to treat TMJ disorders. Dr. Gauthier has completed courses from the American Academy for Facial Esthetics (AAFE) in order to safely treat TMJ patients with Botox. For TMJ patients, Dr. Gauthier targets tense muscles of the face and jaw. He injects Botox into these muscles to alleviate facial and jaw pain. Botox treatment also helps patients with headaches and migraines caused by TMJ disorders.
TMJ Therapy FAQs
Want to know more about TMJ disorders?
Why do I wake up with headaches every morning?
Patients who complain about daily headaches, frequently occurring in the morning, often grind their teeth at night while asleep. This condition is known as bruxism, and left untreated may cause TMJ. If you experience headaches, facial pain, or wearing of teeth, you may have TMJ caused by bruxism.
Do I need oral surgery to get rid of my TMJ disorder?
No. You may not need oral surgery if your TMJ symptoms are not severe and paralyzing. Your dentist can alleviate TMJ symptoms with orthodontics and oral appliances that have been proven to help patients with this disorder.
Can sleeping on your side cause TMJ?
Sleeping on your side can exacerbate your TMJ issues, but is not the sole cause of the disorder. Sleeping on your stomach can also worsen your TMJ issues. The best sleeping position for someone with a TMJ disorder is sleeping face up, on your back.
Schedule a Consultation for TMJ Therapy
Consider the millions of dollars spent each year on over-the-counter pain relievers, doctors visits, and time missed from work because of undiagnosed TMJ dysfunction. Contact our Massachusetts dentist near you at Apex Dental in Northborough for a consultation and to learn more about TMJ treatment.
We warmly welcome new patients and gladly see out-of-town patients. If you need to schedule a pre-consultation to discuss your specific issue, please contact our office at (508) 506-1691 or schedule an appointment online.