mouthpain2One of the most commonly occurring, and commonly misdiagnosed, conditions in America, TMJ Disorder can cause a wide array of symptoms. These can range from neck pain and headaches to shifting teeth and bite problems. At Banasiak & Nettune, we offer the most advanced techniques available, and our New Jersey orthodontist can develop a customized treatment plan for you that can minimize discomfort and damage.

If you would like to learn more about TMJ Disorder, also known as TMD, we invite you to read the information provided below.

What Is TMJ?

TMJ stands for the temporomandibular joint. You have two of these joints, one on each side of your jaw, and they act as hinges so you can open and shut your mouth. The TMJ gets a lot of use during the day as you eat, speak, chew, yawn, swallow, and perform other activities normally. Sometimes this joint can get aggravated at night if you clench or grind your teeth. If you are experiencing TMJ pain-related symptoms, our experienced orthodontist, Dr. Kenneth Banasiak, can diagnose TMJ Disorder and help you alleviate the discomfort associated with it.

What Causes TMJ Disorder?

Misalignment or dysfunction of the TMJ can be caused by a wide range of issues, and sometimes conditions can be both a cause and a symptom of TMD. Arthritis, anatomic imbalance, bruxism (teeth grinding) or clenching, cartilage degeneration, malocclusion (bite misalignment), and other factors can all contribute to the development or worsening of TMJ Disorder. Sometimes, however, simple overuse of the joint can lead to TMJ problems. We can help you determine what influences are involved so you can address the causes effectively.

What Are the Symptoms of TMJ Disorder?

Individuals with TMJ Disorder may experience one or multiple of the following symptoms:

  • Jaw pain
  • Ear ringing, pain, or stuffiness
  • Recurring neck pain
  • Frequent headaches
  • Clicking, popping, or gravelly sound when moving the jaw
  • Swollen cheeks or jaw
  • Muscle spasms in or around the jaw
  • Misalignment between the top and bottom teeth
  • Difficulty opening or shutting the mouth; lockjaw
  • Numbness in the arms and/or fingers

What Are the Treatment Options for TMJ Disorder?

Many patients can benefit from a combination of at-home treatment and medical options, and we will develop a customized treatment plan tailored to your needs. In addition to preventive measures—such as keeping your jaw relaxed and avoiding chewing gum—medications, oral appliances, restorative dentistry, or jaw therapy may be recommended. Only in rare instances will surgery be advised, and we will explain the reasoning behind such a suggestion so that you can make a well-informed decision about your medical care. Most individuals, however, will not need surgery for this condition.

Are There Ways to Prevent TMJ Disorder?

There are preventive measures available to help avoid TMD before it occurs. If you believe you may be at risk for developing this condition, or you just want to know how to avoid this concern, here are some helpful tips that can protect your smile:

  • Maintain a relaxed face and jaw
  • When your jaw is not in use, keep your lips together and teeth apart
  • Minimize teeth clenching and grinding
  • Avoid chewing gum
  • Use both sides of the mouth evenly to chew food
  • Do not rest with your chin in your hand
  • Do not cradle a phone on your neck while speaking; use a headset if necessary
  • Practice good posture with your head lifted, spine straight, and shoulders rolled back

Why Choose Banasiak & Nettune for TMD Treatment?

We are dedicated to delivering optimal care and improving your bite function and comfort. We have access to state-of-the-art technology that can be used to minimize damage to your teeth and oral structures as a result of TMD, and we can identify which treatment methods can achieve effective relief. Our conservative approach also means that we will work to incorporate at-home and medical techniques to limit the need for more invasive approaches. To find out what makes Banasiak & Nettune different, please reach out to our friendly and knowledgeable team to schedule an initial meeting.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About TMJ Disorder

We understand the importance of finding reliable information about an oral condition you may be experiencing, so we have provided answers to some commonly asked questions about TMD. If you have questions not addressed here, please reach out to our skilled team to schedule a consultation.

Is there any way for me to tell if I have TMD?

Only certain medical professionals trained in neuromuscular treatment can accurately diagnose TMJ Disorder, but there is a simple way for you to identify potential bite or jaw misalignment. Open your mouth wide and close it gently. Open your mouth again and slowly close the teeth together naturally—does one side come down first? If your teeth meet on one side first, this may indicate dysfunction. We encourage you to schedule a consultation if this is the case, or if you experience one or more of the symptoms of TMD.

Are there long-term effects of TMD?

Some patients who have only minor side effects from TMJ Disorder think they can simply ignore the issue. Unfortunately, TMD is often progressive and symptoms can worsen over time. Additionally, new conditions may develop that are related to the advancement of TMD. If left untreated, TMD can cause severe headaches, numbness in the fingers and arms, difficulty chewing or swallowing, neck, back, and shoulder aches, and even dizziness. For these reasons, we strongly recommend patients talk to an orthodontist who is experienced in addressing TMJ Disorder, such as Dr. Banasiak.

Why does TMJ Disorder affect other areas of the body?

TMJ Disorder can cause disturbances in the nerve pathways, negatively impacting other areas of the body. When the surrounding facial nerves become inflamed, it can cause discomfort in the eyes and ears. Sometimes patients can also experience neck, back, and shoulder pain as these muscles try to compensate for the lack of force from the TMJ. To avoid TMJ Disorder impacting other areas of the body, patients need to seek treatment as soon as possible.

How long does TMJ Disorder last?

Occasional and acute TMD symptoms may only last for a few days to a few weeks and typically are not a big cause for concern. When these signs start to worsen and not go away, then it is best to seek treatment while TMD is in its early stages. Chronic TMJ Disorder can lead to episodes of pain that can last months or years.

Will TMJ Disorder resolve on its own?

TMJ Disorder can affect patients in different ways, but it is highly unlikely to go away on its own. When individuals start to notice TMJ pain, it is best to consult a qualified dentist so that x-rays can be taken and symptoms can be assessed. If the condition worsens or does not improve after a month, then patients will likely have to go through treatment. Individuals experiencing TMD are typically better off seeking professional guidance than relying on their conditions to dissipate on their own.

Do jaw exercises for TMJ Disorder work?

TMD home remedies, like jaw exercises, may provide some relief and help prevent further issues for some patients. Most dentists will incorporate certain jaw exercises in the treatment plan to help relieve tension in the TMJ and/or strengthen the jaw. Recommended exercises may include the resisted closing exercise, resisted opening exercise, and relaxation exercise. During the consultation, Dr. Banasiak can go over each exercise in more detail and other methods that can reduce TMJ pain and discomfort.

TMD can seem like a small problem at first, but it can potentially develop into a debilitating condition. If you notice any jaw pain, bite problems, or other concerns, please contact our office. We can answer your questions and assist you with scheduling a complimentary consultation.