TMJ Therapy

Tempro-Mandibular Joint Dysfunction Syndrome (TMJ) is a common condition affecting a wide variety of people. TMJ is characterized by severe headaches, jaw pain of varying degrees, grinding teeth, and an intermittent ringing in the ears. The vast majority of TMJ sufferers are unaware that the root cause of these problems is something that a dentist can effectively treat.

The symptoms of TMJ are debilitating and can greatly interfere with every day life. The comfort and general well being of the patient is at the heart of the dental practice, so pain relief is the first consideration of the dentist. The dentist is able to test, diagnose, and devise an immediate plan to treat the underlying causes of the TMJ disorder.

Reasons for treating TMJ (Tempro-Mandibular Joint Dysfunction)

TMJ sufferers report that their symptoms generally worsen during periods of prolonged or unexpected stress, and that intense outbreaks of the condition can lead to neck pain and dizziness.

The most common cause of TMJ is the misalignment of the teeth, often called “bad bite.” It is possible for the dentist to realign or adjust the teeth without the need for painful or expensive surgeries. The realignment/adjustment will stop the pounding headaches, the jaw pain, and the dizziness.

The grinding teeth symptom is particularly common and usually occurs at night. The grinding will eventually erode the structure of the teeth and lead to much more severe dental problems in the future. Untreated TMJ is one of the prime underlying factors in eroded jawbones and loose teeth.

It is important for anyone experiencing the symptoms of TMJ to visit the dentist for an exact diagnosis.

What does treating TMJ involve?

TMJ could be a result of several different problems. Bad bite is the most common, but an injury resulting from a blow to the meniscus cartilage is also a possibility. Initially, the dentist will thoroughly examine the jaw area, the patients bite, take x-rays, and review the patient’s history in order to make an accurate diagnosis and recommend necessary treatment.

Once a firm diagnosis is attained, there are several ways in which relief can be provided. A specially molded bite guard can be created to stop teeth grinding during the night. A bite relationship analysis may be recommended by the dentist. The dentist can also provide advice on relaxation techniques which will lessen the effects of stress. As a last alternative, the dentist is also able to prescribe muscle relaxants.

A better option is to change the shape of the teeth and get rid of the bad bite completely, often called “realignment.” This is especially useful because it alleviates TMJ symptoms and may improve the aesthetic appearance of the teeth as well. Realignment involves adjusting the relationship between how the upper teeth come together with the lower teeth. This may require new restorations and/or adjusting the natural teeth as well. It is not a painful procedure, and it is one the dentist has performed with great success numerous times. As with any procedure, the dentist will be happy to answer questions and discuss symptoms, options, and treatments.

 

More Information

Botox for TMJ and Headache Pain

Temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJD or TMJ), are notoriously difficult to diagnose and treat. Many of the related symptoms, such as headaches and earaches, often lead doctors to diagnose a sinus condition, as opposed to a problem with the jaw joint. TMJ symptoms often change in severity, depending on how much stress the sufferer is experiencing. During an intensely stressful period, grinding teeth, debilitating headaches and lockjaw may occur. Botox® injections are sometimes and effective and painless way to alleviate tension in the temporomandibular joint; reducing jaw pain, headaches and suffering.

Botox® is commonly associated with cosmetic practices, for example, eliminating glabellar lines and facial wrinkles. Recently however, Botox® has become an increasingly popular TMJ treatment. Although some TMJ symptoms may improve without any specific treatment, Botox® offers fast and long-lasting relief for those that do not.

Here are several of the major benefits Botox® offers TMJ sufferers:

  • Elimination of headaches caused by nighttime grinding.
  • Minimization of lockjaw.
  • Reduced discomfort when using the jaw.
  • Reduced shoulder and neck pain.
  • Substantially reduced jaw tension.

How does Botox® work?

The temporomandibular joint is located on both sides of the head where the skull adjoins the jawbone. This joint is constantly being used for a variety of daily activities such as chewing, biting speaking and swallowing. The most prominent causes of TMJ are jaw displacement and stress-related involuntary jaw movements. Botox® expediently alleviates temporomandibular tension by relaxing the jaw muscles. This means that in most cases, the unconscious jaw movements cease completely, and the grinding-related headaches are kept at bay.

One of the major advantages of Botox® is that normal functions such as speaking, swallowing and biting are left unaffected. The only major change is the reduction in pain and discomfort. In addition, controlling TMJ can also prevent serious dental problems from occurring later. TMJ, if left untreated, can contribute to tooth decay, gum disease and the loosening of teeth.

What’s involved when getting Botox® injections?

Prior to administering Botox® injections, the dentist needs to check the patient’s suitability for treatment. When used in conjunction with certain medications and substances, Botox® may not produce the desired results. It is exceptionally important therefore, to be honest about prior medical history. Botox® is not recommended for pregnant or lactating women dental office since it is non-surgical.  Driving ability will not be impaired by the treatment, so there is no need for a designated driver. The injections are no more painful than a bug bite or pinprick, but nitrous oxide (laughing gas) can be used to reduce anxiety if necessary.

Normal activity can be resumed immediately after the Botox® treatment, but strenuous activity should be avoided for 24 hours after treatment. It may take several days to feel the full benefits of the treatment, but Botox® will continue to work for up to 3 months.

If you have any questions or concerns about TMJ or the Botox® treatment, please contact our office.

Further Information

BOTOX® Treatment for Jaw Tension and TMJ
BOTOX® is used as an alternative treatment for TMJ (temporo-mandibular joint) disorders and associated jaw tension and pain. When injected into facial muscles afflicted with soreness and discomfort, BOTOX® relieves TMJ and jaw tension for many patients. The injections often eliminate headaches resulting from teeth grinding, and, in cases of severe stress, BOTOX® can even minimize lock jaw. Although BOTOX® treatment for these conditions is presently experimental; evidence indicates that it can be extremely effective.

How Does BOTOX® Treat Jaw Tension and TMJ Disorder?
Located on both sides of the head at the point where the jawbone meets the skull, the temporo-mandibular joint (TMJ) is used during talking, eating, swallowing, and other everyday activities. If this joint becomes displaced or is overworked through excessive teeth grinding, a person may suffer severe tension headaches, as well as sharp pain in the jaw. BOTOX® relieves jaw tension by making muscles unable to engage in the powerful, often unconscious movement of the jaw that produces headaches and pain.
The BOTOX® alternative treatment for TMJ disorders and jaw tension is usually quick, straightforward, and effective. A non-surgical procedure, BOTOX® injections are administered in a doctor’s office and treatment requires no hospital stay. Most patients experience noticeable improvement within one or two days of their first treatment, although relief can take up to a week.

Areas Affected by TMJ Botox Therapy
Only the areas injected with Botox will be “relaxed.” Botox treatment for TMJ therapy will not affect anywhere else in your body. The injections are mainly in the temporalis, frontalis and masseter (see picture below) additional sites may be injected with Botox depending on the severity of the headaches.

How long is the Botox Treatment Procedure?
The length of the Botox treatment procedure depends on the number of injections needed as determined by the doctor. Still, it is reasonable for the treatment procedure to be completed within 10-30 minutes.

Is the Botox Treatment Painful?
The pain associated with the Botox TMJ Treatment procedure is due to the injections, but it is generally minimal and brief. Some patients have likened the Botox injection pain unto a “bug bite” or “prick”. Pain from the injection can be reduced by numbing proposed injection sites with a cold pack or anesthetic cream. If you are scared of needles the doctor may offer you Happy Gas.

What to Expect After the Botox TMJ Treatment?
After the Botox TMJ Treatment muscle tenderness will start to disappear almost immediately. Wrinkles begin to disappear within 24 – 48 hours after the injections, and you may continue to see the wrinkles diminish up to one week after the Botox treatment procedure.

There may be mild temporary bruising, numbness, or redness around the injection sites. You will not look 20 years younger, but you may find that you look more natural and relaxed or less sad and angry. A small number of patients treated with Botox injections reported no noticeable difference in the reduction of their wrinkles.

What is the Recovery from Botox Therapy for TMJ Treatment Like?
Because the Botox Treatment procedure is non-surgical and non-invasive, it is highly likely that the patient can return to normal activities immediately. However, to avoid spreading the toxin to other muscles, patients should not rub or massage the area injected with Botox and remain upright for many hours. Physical activity should also be limited for a time.

Risks, Limitations & Possible Complications of Botox Injections for TMJ Treatment
As with any medical procedure there are possible risks and side effects when using Botox for TMJ treatment. Since this is a non-surgical treatment procedure, the risks and possible complications are infrequent, minimal and temporary.

The most common reported side-effects of Botox treatment are headaches, respiratory infection, flu syndrome, temporary eye-lid droop, and nausea. Less commonly reported effects of Botox are pain, redness at spot of injection, and muscle weakness. These symptoms are thought to be connected with the Botox injection and occur within the first week.

There could also be bruising at the injection site. The lips are used more than the forehead for common activities such as chewing, kissing, and talking. Therefore Botox injections around the mouth are less useful in TMJ treatment and can have more potential inconvenient effects. These every day activities may become more difficult and too much Botox® around the mouth can result in drooling. Another limitation to Botox® injection for TMJ treatments is that there is a possibility of developing antibodies that would render the TMJ treatments less and less effective over time. This resistance could be delayed by using the lowest effective dose possible over the longest intervals of time. Botox injection treatments should be avoided during pregnancy and lactation.

Disclaimer:  information contained on this website is provided for educational purposes and should not be taken as medical advice.

Bruxism

Bruxism refers to an oral parafunctional activity which occurs in most humans at some point in their lives.  The grinding of the teeth and the clenching of the jaw are the two main characteristics of this condition, which can occur either during the day or at night.

Bruxism is one of the most common known sleep disorders and causes most of its damage during sleeping hours.  The clenching and grinding which accompanies bruxism is symptomatic of a malfunctioning chewing reflex, which is turned off in non-sufferers when sleeping.  For sufferers, deep sleep or even naps, cause the reflex nerve control center in the brain to turn off, and the reflex pathways to become active.

Typically, the incisors and canines (front 6 upper and lower teeth) of opposing arches grind against each other laterally.  This side to side action puts undue strain on the medial pterygoid muscles and the temporomandibular joints.  Earache, depression, headaches, eating disorders and anxiety are amongst the most common symptoms of bruxism; which often accompanies chronic stress, Alzheimer’s disease and alcohol abuse.

Bruxism is frequently misdiagnosed or not diagnosed at all, because it is only one of several potential causes of tooth wear.  Only a trained professional can tell the difference between bruxing wear and wear caused by overly aggressive brushing, acidic soft drinks and abrasive foods.

A BiteStrip® is an economical device used to diagnose bruxism at home.  The device itself is a small electromyography which senses and monitors any activity in the jaw muscles during sleep.  The frequency and severity of the condition can then be assessed and the best treatment plan can be formulated.

Reasons for the treatment of bruxism

Here are some of the main reasons why bruxism should be promptly treated:

Gum recession and tooth loss – Bruxism is one of the leading causes of gum recession and tooth loss; firstly because it damages the soft tissue directly, and secondly because it leads to loose teeth and deep pockets where bacteria can colonize and destroy the supporting bone.

 Occlusal trauma – The abnormal wear patterns on the occlusal (chewing) surfaces can lead to fractures in the teeth, which may require restorative treatment.

Arthritis – In severe and chronic cases, bruxing can eventually lead to painful arthritis in the temporomandibular (TMJ) joints (the joints that allow the jaw to open smoothly).

Myofascial pain – The grinding associated with bruxism can eventually shorten and blunt the teeth.  This can lead to muscle pain in the myofascial region and debilitating headaches.

 Treatment options for bruxism

There is no single cure for bruxism, though a variety of helpful devices and tools are available.  Here are some common ways in which bruxism is treated:

Mouthguards – An acrylic mouthguard can be designed from tooth impressions to minimize the abrasive action of tooth surfaces during normal sleep.  Mouthguards should be worn on a long-term basis to help prevent tooth damage, damage to the temporomandibular joint and help to stabilize the occlusion.

NTI-tss device – This device is fitted by a health professional and only covers the front teeth.  The goal of the NTI-tss is to prevent the grinding of the rear molars by limiting the contraction of the temporalis muscle.

Botox® – Botox® can be injected into the muscles to relax and weaken them.  Botox® is an excellent treatment for bruxism because it weakens the muscles enough to prevent the grinding, but not enough to interfere with everyday functions like chewing and speaking.

Other methods of treatment include relaxation exercises, stress management education and biofeedback mechanisms.  When the bruxing is under control, there are a variety of dental procedures such as crowns, gum grafts and crown lengthening that can restore a pleasant aesthetic appearance to the smile.

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Cherry Hill Dental Excellence
31 Covered Bridge Road
Cherry Hill, NJ 08034

856-513-2228