If you have recently been diagnosed with TMJ Disorder, it can be both a relief and a source of anxiety. You finally know the cause of your chronic pain, but your mind is whirling with questions. What comes next? Is this a common problem? And will you ever enjoy lasting pain relief? Fortunately, a qualified dental office in Sacramento can answer your questions and create a unique treatment plan to meet your needs.
Timothy Mickiewicz, DDS, is a pioneer in the field of TMJ Disorder treatment, and many patients come to him after treatment elsewhere has proven unsuccessful. Furthermore, as a big believer in education, he takes an active role in teaching patients about the origins of jaw dysfunction and the best ways to control chronic pain.
For more information or to schedule a TMD consultation, contact our office today.
What is TMJ Disorder?
TMJ Disorder is a type of jaw dysfunction, affecting the jaw joints, nearby muscles, and/or nerves. The most common type of TMD involves the muscles. This can cause chronic facial pain. Discomfort may spread to the neck and shoulders, and chronic headaches could occur. Less commonly, TMD sufferers face damage to the joints, including a slipped disc or bone damage.
What’s the difference between TMJ and TMD?
The jaw joints are known as temporomandibular joints, or TMJs. TMD is the acronym for temporomandibular disorder. People will sometimes say, “I have TMJ,” referring to their jaw dysfunction, but this is incorrect terminology. Everyone has TMJs, but not everyone has TMD.
How common is TMJ Disorder?
Though not everyone has TMD, it is quite common. According to a recent literature review, 31% of adults and 11% of children and teens suffer from the condition.
What are the symptoms of TMJ Disorder?
Whether it involves the muscles alone, or the joints are damaged, TMD presents several common symptoms. These include:
- Jaw pain and radiating facial pain
- Jaw stiffness
- A popping or clicking sound with jaw movement
- Ear pain and/or ringing in the ears
- Limited range of motion in the jaw joints
- Tingling in the fingers
- Facial swelling
- Dental sensitivity
What causes TMD?
TMD can arise for many reasons. One of the most common causes is bruxism, or chronic teeth grinding. Bruxism puts tremendous strain on the TMJs. Facial trauma, such as a blow during a car accident or a sports injury, can also damage the jaw joints. Rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis can also affect the TMJs.
Additionally, dental misalignment can lead to TMD. Significant malocclusion can affect the force of your bite, putting more strain on some areas of your dental arches than on others. In turn, this can increase pressure on your jaw joints.
Are there risk factors for TMJ Disorder?
TMD can affect anyone, but certain people are more likely to develop the condition. Risk factors include:
- Chronic stress and anxiety
- Gender, since females are more likely to suffer from TMD than males
- Age, with incidences peaking between the ages of 18 and 44
Will TMD ever go away?
If you’ve received a TMD diagnosis, there is good news. Most cases are temporary and will go away with time and appropriate treatment. One study found that after age 65, only 2% of females experienced symptoms of TMJ Disorder, and no males experienced symptoms.
But you don’t have to wait until you’ve reached retirement age to enjoy relief from TMD! Our dental office in Sacramento offers numerous treatments, including oral appliances, trigger point injections, medications, and physical therapy.
How do oral appliances work?
Oral appliances are often the first solution for treating TMJ Disorder because they are conservative and non-invasive. The type of appliance you receive will depend on your jaw physiology and the cause of your chronic pain. The simplest devices are designed simply to prevent teeth grinding; these are worn primarily at night. In other instances, Dr. Mickiewicz may provide an appliance that repositions your jaw to reduce the pressure on your joints.
Can you explain more about trigger point injections?
Trigger points are tiny knots of contracted muscle that can cause radiating pain and reduced range of motion across the region. Often, your practitioner will be able to feel them manually by palpitating the skin around your TMJs.
Trigger point injections are shots of anesthetic, often containing corticosteroids and/or BOTOX®. The injections will relax the tightened muscle fibers, which will subsequently reduce swelling and inflammation. Most patients notice significant relief 24 to 72 hours after their injections, and the results can last for several months.
I thought BOTOX was a cosmetic treatment. How can it treat my TMD?
BOTOX contains very small amounts of botulinum toxin, which blocks nerve signals to the brain. As a result, muscle activity stops, and tension is released. Simultaneously, BOTOX also blocks pain signals to the brain.
BOTOX was not originally conceived as a rejuvenation treatment. Rather, in the 1970s, doctors used it to treat strabismus (being cross-eyed). It was only after these treatments that they noticed an additional effect – patients also had reduced wrinkles between their eyes.
If I’m prescribed medications, will I have to take them forever?
Not at all! Medications may include muscle relaxants or pain relievers. These are only meant as a temporary solution, decreasing inflammation until other treatments take effect.
If stress-related bruxism is the root cause of your TMD, you may benefit from anti-anxiety medications. You should discuss this with your primary care provider or a mental health professional to determine what type of medication will be most beneficial and how long you should take it.
Contact Our Dental Office in Sacramento for More Information
Don’t let a new diagnosis be a source of worry and confusion! Dr. Mickiewicz is always happy to answer questions and help you know what you can expect. Contact our dental office in Sacramento today.
You can make an appointment online or call us at (916) 469-9178.