TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint and it’s one of the most complex joints in your body. Your right and left TMJ components are situated on either side of your head right in front of your ears where the condyles of your jaw meet your skull. Smoothly moving your jaw up-and-down, back-and-forth, and side-to-side, this joint is responsible for a wider range of motions than any other joint.
The TMJ is surrounded by a complex network of ligaments, cartilage, and muscles that coordinate the movement of your jaw. Like other joints in your body, all of these intricate structures are prone to damage from uneven wear or overuse. A TMJ disorder is when something goes wrong with the function of that joint.
Signs of TMJ Disorder
You may have a dysfunctional TMJ if you notice any of these common symptoms:
- Frequent pain around your jaw, ear, and/or neck
- Chronic headaches or earaches
- A limited range of motion for your jaw
- Unusual clicking or popping when you open and close your mouth
- Jaw dislocation
- Ringing in your ear or muffled hearing
- Difficulty biting and chewing food
- Discomfort when you yawn, talk, or sing
A painful jaw is extremely difficult to live with since it directly affects important daily activities and can even disrupt your sleep. If you’re experiencing pain from a TMJ disorder, then you need relief right away.
Relief from TMJ Pain by a Dentist
While some people use the term “TMJ dentist,” there is not really such a thing since this isn’t a recognized specialty. However, there is a general understanding among dentists that adequately treating temporomandibular joint problems requires extra training beyond earning a dental degree. Dr. Tostado’s specialty training as a prosthodontist has given him that extra training. He can create a balanced and comfortable bite for you that can alleviate and prevent TMJ pain.
If you have a painful TMJ, Dr. Tostado will take a two-phase approach to your treatment.
First, Dr. Tostado will recommend some exercises, medications, and therapeutic treatments to help you get relief. For example, he might prescribe applying moist heat to your TMJ or wearing an orthotic device that can help stabilize your jaw and relieve stress on the joint.
Next, Dr. Tostado will work with you to identify the cause of your discomfort so that he can treat your pain at its source. This can be difficult to precisely identify because the joint is a complex one and the pain can be caused by multiple factors. Most of the time, however, TMJ disorder is linked to an unbalanced bite. Restoring damaged, missing, or worn teeth can even out your bite and ensure that your upper and lower teeth meet together in the optimal places to reduce strain on your jaw.
Dr. Tostado will use a small appliance called a Kois Deprogrammer to assess your bite and determine the most comfortable position for your jaw. If he identifies any discrepancies, he will recommend restorative options that can help balance out your bite.
Dr. Tostado is a prosthodontist which means that he specializes in providing full-mouth restorations to rebuild damaged and missing teeth. This procedure promotes a stable, healthy, and comfortable bite.
Are you experiencing TMJ pain? A consultation with Dr. Tostado could help you find out why and get you on the road to relief. Give us a call or fill out the Request an Appointment form.