Do you have a TMJ problem?
When patients come in and they say they have TMJ or someone told them they had TMJ or their doctor recommended they see a dentist because they suspect TMJ, I always try to find out what was the diagnoses. Because TMJ, unfortunately, not to be sarcastic or anything, is kind of like saying, “Oh we have a knee.” Okay, well I have a knee is there something wrong with the TMJ and if there is something wrong with the TMJ what is it? Is there arthritis in the joints? Meaning are the bones actually wearing down? Is the soft tissue in the wrong way? Because the TMJ, the joint itself, is different then all the other joints in the body. It’s more complex because, it doesn’t just rotate like my arm here or my elbow. But, it actually slides back and forth as it rotates. So there is a lot more parts to it. A lot of times people can have pain in their jaw and it’s not related to joint itself – maybe its a muscle or an imbalance with the patient’s bite. So we want to determine that. Because, if its the teeth that are causing the jaw problem then the teeth need to be fixed. If it’s the jaw that is then causing teeth problems, then we need to look at the teeth and fix that.
And there’s a lot of ways a lot of patients have been told that the only way to fix TMJ is surgery. That’s not the case there is a lot of ways to fix it non-surgically and in fact, that is the preferred method nowadays. Most oral surgeons and general surgeons don’t want to do TMJ surgery because, it might be a temporary fix, but the problem doesn’t go away. And it just gets worst but now the person has less range of motion and has other complications from it. So if we can fix that and get a proper diagnoses that is the key to fixing the individual and getting them healthy.
TMJ can be scary for patients too. Because, I have had a number of patients who come in and they’re frightened because they’ll come in on emergency bases. Because, either they yawned real big and gotten there moth stuck open and they cant close it. which is frighting because you are stuck there. Or, they cant open beyond one finger and they can’t get anything in there. And that can be really scary for somebody because they are stuck or they have something called lock jaw. That again, is something that’s not normal and if that happens to people a lot of times they can unlock themselves after a period of time. But, if that continues to happen it starts to break down the ligaments and the bones and the supporting structures and that can be really detrimental. So my therapy, my primary way to fix people, is non surgical. We are able to go ahead and balance the joints get them healthy by putting splints in their mouth, adjusting them, and orthopedicly re-position the bit to allow everything to heal normally. And, that’s the best way to do it, in my opinion.