Are your headaches or migraines mostly in the morning? Do you have limited mobility in the jaw or hear a popping or clicking noise when you open or close your jaw? Dr. Gauthier can help restore your teeth and the function of your mouth with TMJ therapy. Dr. Robert Gauthier provides TMJ treatment to patients in Northborough, MA, near you. He evaluates your bite and how bite issues may add to problems like headaches, earaches, and tooth wear.
Patients and physicians often misdiagnose the signs when they may, in fact, be the result of a treatable dental problem or temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD). Few dentists and physicians have the right training and experience to detect TMJ disorders.
What is TMJ?
TMJ, or the temporomandibular joint, is a joint linking the upper and lower jaw and is in charge of the opening and closing of the mouth. TMJ is also a broad term that describes a state in which the jaw joints or teeth do not connect properly.
Dr. Gauthier focused a vast amount of his post-graduate training on diagnosing and treating TMJ disorders, along with the complex dental problems resulting from prolonged TMJ dysfunction.
He will perform a full exam of all aspects of your occlusal system and an analysis of your bite to see 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 a mix of factors may be to blame, such as:
- 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, and it results in bite problems)
As with the causes, symptoms of TMJ disorder vary greatly among patients. TMD symptoms often mask themselves or are like those of other medical conditions. This makes getting an accurate diagnosis very hard. Common symptoms of TMJ disorder include:
- Shoulder, neck, and facial pain
- Clicking or popping when opening or closing the 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 and treatment options to his patients:
- Oral Appliances: An oral appliance is a removable device, mostly 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 night guard. These are custom-made to fit the exact mold of your teeth. They do not reverse the damage; however, they will prevent any further damage from occurring.
- Cosmetic and Restorative Dentistry: Cosmetic and restorative dental treatments can repair damaged teeth due to TMJ issues. Your dentist can repair worn teeth with dental bonding, porcelain veneers, dental crowns, or other dental restorations. We can complete many procedures in a single visit using same-day CEREC technology. This will not prevent patients from grinding their teeth or future damage, but it will restore the damage that has been previously caused.
- Botox: Some dentists use Botox for cosmetic treatments, although we can also use it to soothe TMD symptoms. Dr. Gauthier has certification from the American Academy for Facial Esthetics (AAFE) to treat TMJ patients with Botox safely. 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 frequent TMJ headaches and migraines.
TMJ Therapy FAQs
Do you have further questions about TMJ Therapy? Continue reading to learn more and find answers to commonly asked questions regarding TMJ Therapy in our office.
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. Bruxism or unaddressed teeth grinding may cause TMD symptoms. 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 TMD symptoms are not severe and paralyzing. Your dentist can alleviate TMD symptoms with orthodontics and oral appliances such as a night guard, oral splints, and Invisalign.
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.
What can I do at home to help treat TMJ?
If you have TMJ pain, changing your daily routine can make a big impact. These lifestyle changes can help lessen TMJ symptoms:
- Avoid chewing gum
- Eat soft foods
- Do not open your mouth wide when yawning or biting
- Chew with both sides of your mouth
- Apply moist heat to your joints in 15-minute increments
Is TMJ pain permanent?
No. With the right professional care, you can manage your TMJ pain. A dentist can help treat TMJ pain, teeth clenching and grinding, and other painful symptoms. Visiting a professional as soon as possible can help reduce the risk of chronic TMJ pain.
Can you prevent TMJ disorders?
There is no effective pre-treatment for TMD. However, relaxing your jaw can reduce pain in the temporomandibular joints. Ice can help reduce muscle pain and swelling surrounding your TMJ if you have new TMJ pain. However, heating packs can increase blood circulation if you have continual TMJ discomfort. Reducing stressors in your everyday life may also prevent reoccurrence of symptoms.
Schedule a Consultation for TMJ Therapy
Consider the millions of dollars spent each year on over-the-counter pain relievers, doctor 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, please contact our office at (508) 506-1691. You may also schedule an appointment online.