TMJ / TMD Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction
Mark W. Ericsson D.M.D
“TMD” and “TMJ” are commonly used abbreviations referring to dysfunction in and around the human Temporomandibular Joint. The human TMJ is an intricate articulating mechanism which enables the lower mandible (“jaw”) to move in relation to and function with the human skull. The TMJ is constituent of intricate muscle groups and a cartilaginous disk. Dysfunction of the TMJ can occur from a number of causes:
Causes of TMJ / TMD
- Occlusal Plane Disruption – Improper “ Curve of Wilson” or “Curve of Spee” ( “Disrupted Bite Planes” or a “Deep Bite”) causing trauma to the Temporomandibular Joint. this is the most common underlying cause of TMD (Temporomandibular Dysfunction) in human population.
- Collapsed Vertical Dimension Of Occlusion – This condition is most often caused by excessively worn teeth. Over-closure of the TMJ causes Muscle spasms and pain in surrounding muscle groups. The primary cause of worn teeth is “Chronic Bruxism”. Improper Vertical Dimension Of Occlusion can also be caused by improperly designed dental work.
- Chronic Bruxism-(Clenching and/or Grinding the teeth). This is most commonly occurs during R.E.M. (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep but also occurs during awake hours.
- Iatrogenic Dentistry- (Dentistry which was improperly performed causing interferences in smooth jaw function).
- Unbalanced Occlusion- (Bite relationship of the teeth and Jaw). This condition is often caused by tooth loss and/or uneven bite forces in the human dentition.
- Trauma- (to the face, jaw, and/or body in the form of whiplash).
- Antidepressants- Commonly prescribed such as Lexapro and Zoloft have been commonly associated with Clenching and Grinding of the teeth.
Symptoms of TMJ / TMD
- Headache (Migraine Headache)
- Neck Ache
- Shoulder Pain
- Back Ache
- Jaw pain
- Clicking and Popping in the Ear
- Grinding in the Ear
- Ear pain
- Restricted Mouth Opening
- Deviated Opening
- Activation of stress related, physical, and mental illnesses.
- Bell’s Palsy (in my opinion after 30 Years of observation)
Treatment of TMJ / TMD
Treatment of TMD / TMJ is highly successful in most acute cases. Success depends on proper diagnosis and treatment planning of the underlying causes of TMD / TMJ. Treatment options performed by Ericsson Dental include:
- Night Guard Fabrication- Night Guards or Splints create an elevated and flat plane which the teeth can slide freely during sleep. Most trauma caused by Teeth Grinding occurs during R.E.M. (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep. A Night Guard is most effective when it is a custom made hard/soft composition. These Night guards are an effective, economical, and fast treatment alternative in most TMD / TMJ cases. Ericsson Dental fabricates these night guards in as quickly as one day. In severe cases anti-inflammatory medications are prescribed in conjunction with Night Guard fabrication. A Night Guard, Ice applied to the TMJ, and Anti-Inflammatory Medications are often administered as Dental Emergency Treatment for acute cases of TMD /TMJ.
- Occlusal Equilibration- (selective adjustment of tooth surfaces). Many cases of TMD / TMJ are caused by an Unbalanced Bite. Often these adjustments are performed in conjunction with Night Guard fabrication. These Night Guards can be promptly fabricated by our “in house” dental lab.
- Full Mouth Reconstruction- when teeth become excessively worn, mal-aligned to the degree of disrupting normal occlusal planes and normal bite height. Dental Implants, Crowns, Bridges, and Root Canal Therapy provide an effective treatment for optimizing how your teeth function. In addition, significant improvement in esthetics is achieved. We at Ericsson Dental have performed countless Full Mouth Rehabilitations over the past 30 Years. Refer to our “Before and After” page for a sampling of cases performed by Ericsson Dental.
- Surgical Intervention- As a last resort, surgical intervention on the Temporomandibular Joint can used to intervene in severe cases of TMD /TMJ after the causative factors have been corrected or improved. Surgery on the Temporomandibular Joint carries a very uncertain prognosis and success rate and is rarely necessary or recommended.
Ericsson Dental has been treating TMD / TMJ cases for 30 Years. Our philosophy to treat TMD / TMJ cases with the most conservative and effective method possible. Patients with a Boca Raton Dental Emergency involving TMD / TMJ pain are quickly, compassionately, fairly, and expertly treated. As an Emergency Dentist in Boca Raton, we are also available to help you whenever possible. For a Complimentary Dental TMD / TMJ evaluation, call Ericsson Dental @ 561-479-4000