Occlusal disease, which includes temporomandibular disorders (TMD), is one of the most common undiagnosed dental problems facing today’s dental patients. It has a variety of causes and symptoms, but many patients are treated symptomatically and continue to experience dental health problems through the years until they are correctly diagnosed by a highly trained and experienced restorative dentist like Dr. Ray Becker in Columbia, MD.
Dr. Becker is one of the most experienced dentists in Maryland for the diagnosis and treatment of temporomandibular disorders (TMD). He has written textbooks, numerous articles and research on the subject, and teaches other dentists worldwide about TMD disorders and occlusal disease. He is the internationally renowned Interpretation and Certifying Instructor for the Total BioPAK system, the leading technology in TMD diagnosis. Dr. Becker utilizes advanced dental care technologies to treat TMD and other complex dental problems.
TMD & TMJ: Understanding The Cause
“TMJ issues are typically related to the interaction between the teeth, the muscles, and the jaw joint. We have the ability with very, very precise equipment to determine exactly how these interactions occur between those three systems and giving a patient a much more accurate and objective diagnosis and then treatment options.” Dr. Ray Becker
About TMD (TMJ) Disorders
The Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) is the joint that connects the upper and lower jaw and is responsible for the opening and closing of the mouth. TMD (TMJ) disorder is a catch-all term for a wide variety of potential issues affecting the jaw joint, muscles in the face, neck, and surrounding nerves.
Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD) describes a group of conditions characterized by pain and dysfunction of the TMJ and/or the muscles surrounding it.
It’s not always so easy to figure out exactly what’s causing these symptoms, but the good news is that many TMD cases resolve themselves with the help of conservative remedies that you can try at home. In fact, it’s important to exhaust all such reversible remedies before moving on to anything irreversible, such as bridgework or surgery.
Common Causes of TMD (TMJ) Disorder
- Trauma to the head, neck, or face
- Joint diseases, such as arthritis
- Hormonal changes or imbalances
- Malocclusion (bite problems)
Signs & Symptoms of TMJ Disorder (TMD)
As with the causes, symptoms of TMJ disorder vary greatly between patients. TMD symptoms often mask themselves or are similar to those of other medical conditions, making diagnosis extremely difficult.
Common symptoms of TMD include:
- Shoulder, neck, facial pain
- Clicking or popping when opening or closing jaw
- Locked jaw or limited mobility in the jaw joint
- Teeth clenching, teeth grinding, often accompanied by tooth wear
- Chronic earaches
Damage to The Jaw: Diagnosing Your Symptoms with JVA Quick
“The Joint Vibration Analysis is a simple quick test to discover whether a patient has an issue that requires or will benefit from additional therapies.”Dr. Ray Becker
Treatment Options for TMD/TMJ
Dr. Becker’s goal is to treat TMD by gently and naturally bringing the head, neck, jaw, and bite into proper alignment. He will start with a comprehensive evaluation to look for the signs and symptoms of TMJ dysfunction. Using advanced diagnostic equipment, he will determine the source of instability and create a customized treatment plan to bring the teeth and bite into proper alignment.
Whenever possible, Dr. Becker will recommend conservative treatment options that can be successful in addressing your symptoms and restoring dental health. For more complex cases of misalignment or damaged teeth, Dr. Becker may recommend the following treatment options:
A TMJ mouthguard is a removable oral appliance that helps to keep the teeth and jaw in the proper position. Usually worn during sleep, an oral appliance may also prevent teeth grinding or clenching which can lead to tooth wear and contribute to tooth decay and gum disease. TMJ treatment through splints, mouthguards, and night guards can help to alleviate the most common symptoms of TMJ dysfunction and prevent damage to the teeth and gums.
Bite Correction Procedures:
Occlusal equilibration, better known as bite correction or TMJ correction, is the process of adjusting the alignment of the teeth for optimal fit. The teeth should line up so that they make even contact with one another, creating a low-stress bite.
Over 95% of TMJ dysfunction (TMD) and TMJ pain are caused by improper occlusion. Bite correction can help to alleviate the symptoms of TMD such as the sore jaw, headaches, teeth clenching, and more.
Comprehensive TMJ Therapy Works: Patient Testimonial
“With all the adjustments made my teeth fit together very well, over a period of time I noticed I didn’t have the pain and the cracking went away.”
Advanced Technology for TMJ Treatment
Dr. Becker isn’t just a local dentist for TMJ treatment. He is an internationally recognized expert in the field.
One of the advanced technologies we use in our Columbia dental office is the T-Scan® III. Recently, Dr. Becker has taken on the role as the sole international interpretation and certifying instructor for the maker of this system.
T-Scan® Revolutionary Diagnosis
The T-Scan® III system analyzes the bite far more accurately than the traditional ‘carbon paper’ method. Dr. Becker is one of only a few dentists in the area using these advanced technologies for better diagnosis, treatment, and evaluation of uncomfortable bites, restorations, occlusion, or temporomandibular dysfunction (TMD/TMJ) issues.
These advanced technologies are used and taught worldwide by practically every notable group or individual that teaches or espouses advanced occlusion or biometrics in dentistry.
“With TScan we can see the force timing and contact you have with your teeth to allow us to objectively unravel what is going on with your occlusal.” Dr. Ray Becker
Dr. Becker is one of the few dentists worldwide who holds a mastership status in Total BioPAK®, and one of the very few who has ever received the Diplomate Award and status for his efforts in educating medical doctors and dentists internationally in the use of Electrovibratography, Electromyography, and Electrognathography.
Occlusal & TMD Disorder FAQs
Why does my jaw hurt?
There are many reasons why you might be experiencing jaw pain. One of the main reasons we see in our office is stress. People either grind their teeth at night or clench their teeth together during the day under circumstances of high stress. This puts additional tension on your mouth muscles and jawbone, causing jaw pain.
Another common cause of jaw pain is issues with your bite pattern. Missing, crooked, or misaligned teeth are known to cause jaw pain because they throw off your bite pattern and put your dental structures under higher amounts of pressure to perform daily tasks like eating and speaking.
Is there an official name for jaw pain?
If it is determined that your jaw pain is being caused by the temporomandibular joint of your jaw, you will be considered to have a TMJ disorder. This joint is responsible for connecting the temporal bone of the skull and the lower mandible of the jaw to aid in chewing and speaking. Symptoms of a TMJ disorder include jaw pain, tension headaches, soreness around the neck and shoulders, or a popping or clicking noise when you open and close your mouth.
Are TMJ disorders treatable by a dentist near me?
Yes, TMJ disorders are treatable. The way in which they are treated largely depends on what is discovered to be the underlying cause of the disorder for each patient. A bite guard or splint is often the first step. Oral appliances are used early in treatment to help hold your jaw in a better resting position while you sleep. Dr. Becker also offers bite correction therapy and restorative dentistry solutions to help treat patients with TMJ disorders.
My jaw hurts right now; what should I do?
A cold compress to the jawbone or cheek will help reduce any facial swelling or inflammation caused by jaw pain. Additionally, you should avoid eating crunchy foods or chewing gum until the jaw pain subsides. Patients are encouraged to practice mindfulness throughout the day to help reduce their jaw pain flare-ups. Remind yourself to relax your facial muscles and stretch out your jaw during particularly stressful tasks to help reduce the amount of tension held there.
How long do TMJ headaches last?
The typical duration of a TMJ flare-up is a few hours to a few days. TMJ flare-ups can occasionally linger for many weeks. Call our office to discuss potential treatment options if your TMJ problems don’t go away in this amount of time.
Can TMJ headaches be constant?
TMJ symptoms like teeth grinding and clenching are both accompanied by headaches because they affect your head muscles. Unfortunately, because these headaches can be so intense or frequent, they are sometimes misinterpreted as migraine headaches and treated as such.
How should I sleep with a headache from TMJ?
Tmj may worsen by lying on your side with a hand under your pillow. Your head and neck will be out of alignment while you sleep in this poor position, which increases your risk of TMJ pain. In order to keep your head and neck properly positioned, lying on your back is the best sleeping position for Tmj.
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