Treating TMJ Disorder
Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders affect over 10 million Americans. When left untreated, joint disorders can cause oral health issues including tooth damage and tooth loss. Dr. Andy Maples works with joint specialists to determine the cause of your disorder and design a custom TMJ treatment plan. Treatments for joint disorders range from custom mouthguards to jaw surgery. During your consultation at our Loveland, CO, dental practice, we will review your symptoms and recommend a solution that can provide the relief you need.
Do You Have a TMJ Disorder?
Although the exact cause of TMJ disorders is unknown, there are several factors that can increase your risk of developing a condition, including:
- Joint, jaw, or muscle injury
- Excessive teeth grinding (bruxism)
The most common symptoms of TMJ disorder include:
- Popping or grinding noises when you open or close your mouth
- Difficulty opening your mouth wide
- Pain when eating
- Facial swelling
- Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
- Excessively worn or loose teeth
- Frequent headaches
A proper diagnosis is essential in order to achieve relief from these painful symptoms.
Diagnosing Your Condition
During your dental exam, Dr. Maples will conduct a few tests to assess the health of your joints. He will also ask you about your symptoms and review your medical history.
In some cases, diagnosing your condition is a team effort. In order to find out what is triggering your TMJ pain, Dr. Maples may refer your case to a joint specialist who can determine the cause of your symptoms. For many patients, malocclusion or other anatomical abnormalities are the cause.
Studies have found that mouthguards can be effective for treating a TMJ disorder in its earliest stages.
Based on his findings, Dr. Maples may recommend treating your condition with:
Dr. Maples can create a custom mouthguard for you to wear on a nightly basis. This guard will reposition the lower mandible to decrease the amount of strain on your TMJs. For patients who grind their teeth at night, the mouthguard also acts as a protective barrier between your upper and lower arches to prevent additional fractures or tooth loss. Studies have found that mouthguards can be effective for treating a TMJ disorder in its earliest stages.
Restorative Dental Treatment
In some cases, damaged teeth can create a misaligned bite and intensify the symptoms of a TMJ disorder. Dr. Maples can design and create custom dental crowns that restore balance and alignment to your smile. In addition to strengthening a weak or damaged tooth, dental crowns can help improve the cosmetics of your smile.
If malocclusion is to blame for your jaw pain, Dr. Maples may refer you out to an orthodontic specialist. By realigning your smile, braces can help reduce the painful symptoms of TMJ disorders.
In severe cases, surgery may be the only effective way to treat your symptoms.