TMJ Treatment

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Headaches

About 45 million Americans suffer from chronic recurring headaches. The exact cause of migraines and other types of a headache, even headache after trauma, is still unknown in many cases. Medical therapy is often limited to treating symptoms with drugs. Dental jaw treatment helps some people with headaches and may do so without drugs or their side effects. If you have chronic recurrent headaches of unknown origin that have been evaluated by the physician, you may benefit from FJO (Functional Jaw Orthopedics) evaluation and FJO treatment, if indicated.

What is the Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ)?

tmj1The temporomandibular joint connects the lower jaw, called the mandible, to the temporal bone at the side of the head. If you place your fingers just in front of your ears and open your mouth, you can feel the joint on each side of your head. Because these joints are flexible, the jaw can move smoothly up and down and side to side, enabling us to talk, chew and yawn. Muscles attached to and surrounding the jaw joint control its position and movement.

 When we open our mouths, the rounded ends of the lower jaw, called condyles, glide along the joint socket of the temporal bone. The condyles slide back to their original position when we close our mouths. To keep this motion smooth, a soft disc lies between the condyle and the temporal bone. This disc absorbs shocks to the TMJ from chewing and other movements.

What is a Jaw Joint problem (TMD)?

Today, researchers generally agree that temporomandibular disorders fall into three main categories:

  • tmj2Myofascial pain, the most common form of TMD, which is discomfort or pain in the muscles that control jaw function and the neck and shoulder muscles;
  • Internal derangement of the joint, meaning a dislocated jaw or displaced disc, or injury to the condyle;
  • Degenerative joint disease, such as osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis in the jaw joint.
A person may have one or more of these conditions at the same time.

TMJ signs and symptoms

A variety of symptoms may be linked to TMD. Pain, particularly in the chewing muscles and/or jaw joint, is the most common symptom. Other likely symptoms include:

  • Limited movement or locking of the jaw
  • Radiating pain in the face, neck or shoulders
  • Painful clicking, popping or grating sounds in the jaw joint when opening or closing the mouth
  • A sudden, major change in the way the upper and lower teeth fit together

Symptoms such as headaches, earaches, dizziness and hearing problems may sometimes be related to TMD. It is important to keep in mind, however, that occasional discomfort in the jaw joint or chewing muscles is quite common and is generally not a cause for concern. Researchers are working to clarify TMD symptoms, with the goal of developing easier and better methods of diagnosis and improved treatment.

What the “Functional Jaw Orthopedics” (FJO)?

Functional Jaw Orthopedics (FJO) is the newest, most progressive form of orthodontics. FJO dentists will lead dentistry and medicine into a new world of medical dentistry. Patients will have new options for effective alternative treatment.

FJO involves changing the relationships of teeth, bone, muscles, and tissues of the upper and lower jaws, jaw joints, and skull.

What causes Jaw Joint problems?

TMD (TMJ Disorder) is not just one disorder but a group of conditions, often painful, that affect the jaw joint (temporomandibular joint or TMJ) and the muscles that control chewing. Generally, discomfort from TMD is occasional and temporary, often occurring in cycles.

Chewing puts 95–266 lbs of biting force on teeth. These forces of chewing, along with grinding, clenching and swallowing habits, all contribute to lifelong changes in teeth, bone, and tissues. Normal aging and dental treatment can affect tooth position and jaw position throughout life. These changes can be for better or for worse.

Heavy biting forces are transferred to the jaw joints during chewing and also to a smaller degree during clenching, grinding or swallowing. A space between the back ends of the lower jawbone and the bone of the joints along with a special joint cartilage usually provide protection. Jaws and jaw joints are usually very resilient, especially when protected by balanced tooth support.

Simple tooth imbalances, which force the lower jaw to shift, can cause jaw, jaw joint, head and body damage.

If the jaw shifts toward one or both joints, biting forces transferred to the jaw joints can then lead to the jawbone and joint degeneration. This can frequently be seen on radiographs.

Enough stress and strain can cause jaw and jaw joint dysfunction (TMJ), which is hard to diagnose and treat.

Severe injury to the jaw or to jaw joint can cause TMD. A heavy blow, for example, can fracture the bones of the joint or damage the disc, disrupting the smooth motion of the jaw and causing pain or locking.

When should the treatment be initiated?

When a dental malocclusion exists, the time to make major non-surgical corrections limited. By age six, the upper and lower jaw structures have reached about 80% of their full growth. It is better to work early and progressively in phases, as a child grows and develops, rather than to limit treatment options at a much later age and later stage of development.

How is TMJ disorder treated?

FJO treatments utilize a broad range of appliances and techniques. This allows each patient to be treated individually, instead of being fit into some narrow timeline or treatment method. Removable appliances place orthodontic and orthopedic forces on teeth and jaws. They can be made of metal, plastic or both and can be used beginning at age three. Fixed appliances can be metal, plastic, ceramic or combination thereof.

There are dozens of great reasons for patients to choose FJO treatment. FJO treatment can help develop more attractive faces and smiles, and open airways. Early FJO treatment corrects small problems before they grow bigger, leading to fewer “serial” extractions and fewer overall extractions. Adults of all ages can be treated with FJO therapy, which helps develop healthier jaws, TM joints, and balanced bites. FJO treatment can even prevent surgery.

Providing FJO treatment is rewarding because it can be powerful effective medical dentistry. FJO therapy can help to improve a patient’s self-image and also provide positive lifelong effects. It promotes good dental function, which has multiple medical benefits.

Studies show that good dental function is significantly associated with better cognitive thought, better vision, better hearing, better lung volume, better heart volume, greater muscle strength, better bone mineral content, fewer heart attacks and a longer life.