What is TMJ Dysfunction?
Temporomandibular joint dysfunction, commonly called TMJ dysfunction, is a condition affecting the joints that connect the lower jaw to the skull. These joints are responsible for all jaw movement, and when they become imbalanced or strained, you can experience pain and difficulty with eating, speaking, and opening and closing your mouth. Bruxism, dislocation of the jaw, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and stress are some causes of TMJ dysfunction. Because of the location of these joints, problems with them can cause both dental and neurological problems. Since TMJ crosses many disciplines of medicine, it can affect different parts of the body.
What are the symptoms of TMJ Dysfunction?
- Bruxism, also called teeth grinding (can be both a symptom and a cause)
- Discomfort with chewing
- Dull and persistent pain in the face and jaw
- Earache or headache especially in the morning
- Neck and shoulder pain
- Popping or clicking of the jaw when opening the mouth
How can TMJ Dysfunction and migraines be treated?
To treat TMJ dysfunction, you must prevent the jaw muscles from clenching and causing further pressure and discomfort. Dr. Gross may recommend an oral appliance and orthodontics to wear at night in order to separate back teeth and prevent you from grinding and clenching them. It also helps protect your teeth from the abnormal wear and breakage that occurs with bruxism. Also known as a night guard, the oral appliance is custom fit to your mouth to be comfortably worn over the teeth during sleep. Another option for relief is a cranio-sacral massage. This light massage to the head, upper neck and spine can release tensions associated with TMJ dysfunction and improve total wellbeing. Dr. Gross may also suggest lifestyle changes that can help alleviate stress or eliminate bad oral habits that sometimes cause TMJ dysfunction.
What benefits will I receive with TMJ dysfunction treatment?
Oral appliances and small lifestyle changes will result in noticeable advantages to your overall health. With TMJ disorder treatment, you will sleep better since your teeth will not be under constant pressure from harmful grinding and clenching, and you will experience relief from pain in the jaws, face, head, neck, and shoulders. In addition, you will help protect your natural tooth structure from the damage caused by teeth grinding.
Oral appliances from Dr. Gross are specially formed to fit the unique shape of your mouth and are not bulky or cumbersome like one-size-fits-all oral appliances you can buy in stores. Since the oral appliance is worn during sleep, you may not even notice you are wearing it.
Cranio-sacral massages are beneficial not only for the treatment of temporo-mandbular joint dysfunction but can also help the body’s healing process through release of tension in the spinal cord. For more information about this therapy, read our cranio-sacral massage page.
To ask questions about holistic dentistry or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Lewis Gross, contact our Tribeca holistic dentist office at (212) 732-2200. We are currently accepting new patients. For your convenience, new patient forms are available for download on our website.