Your mouth is a window into the health of the body. Specific dental care treatments can help treat orofacial pain, TMD, airway issues and more. They can even play a key role in improving your overall health. Our approach to providing TMD relief is thorough. Determining the cause and effect relationship is key to identifying the problem and the treatment.
TMJ is short for Temporomandibular Joint, which is the joint where the jaw connects to the skull. TMD is short for Temporomandibular Joint Disorder, which is a condition that can affect TMJ.
It’s important to understand that TMJ and TMD are two different conditions, but patients often mistake them as one. TMD usually affects people who have had an injury to their jaw or have had teeth removed in the past. Stress or clenching of teeth can also cause this issue. On the other hand, muscle tension in your face and neck can cause TMJ. An injury to your jaw joint is another common cause.
Our TMD and TMJ Services may include:
- Orofacial Pain and TMD Diagnosis
- Precision Orthotics (Splints)
- Dental Sleep Appliances and Titration
- Long term treatment options for patients suffering from Orofacial Pain
TMD and Airway issues
Orofacial Pain and TMD Diagnosis
A number of systemic and dental problems may be the source of pain in the head and neck area, known as Orofacial pain. Temporomandibular Disorders (TMD) are one possible contributor to Orofacial pain. TMD describes a complex group of disorders characterized by pain and limited mobility in the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) and surrounding tissue. An estimated 35 million adults suffer from TMD. However, it is difficult to find experienced professionals that can properly diagnose and treat these disorders.
We employ cutting-edge technology to identify, diagnose, and treat the root causes of your TMD-related disorder and offer relief from persistent and painful symptoms. TMD therapy often includes specifically designed precision orthotics used to help correct poor bites, decrease stress at the joint level, and reduce muscle hyperactivity such as clenching and grinding.
In some instances, we must call upon additional health care specialists within our trusted network. For example, physical therapy can be helpful for sore muscles, cervical neck issues, sleep position, posture, and advice such as biofeedback. We may also prescribe short-term medications for inflammation and muscle relaxation to relieve TMD pain. Serious joint problems occasionally require surgical intervention.
Dr. Cobb has treated patients suffering from TMD for over 25 years. Dr. Cobb has studied and completed mini-residencies with many leaders in the field of treating TMD and has shared his expertise teaching around the world. Dr. Cobb is an active member of the American Equilibration Society, the largest society dedicated to the study of Occlusion and TMJ Disorders. Dr. Cima has begun his journey into TMD learning with Dr. Cobb as his mentor.
Causes and Symptoms of TMJ Disorders:
- Trauma and accidents may cause disharmony in the TMJ
- Various types of arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis
- Jaw injury
- Chronic grinding or clenching of teeth
- Connective tissue diseases that cause problems with the temporomandibular joint
- Noises in the TMJ such as popping, clicking, or grating
- Locked jaw
- Frequent headaches or migraines
- Difficulty eating or chewing
- Tired sensation after exercising the TMJ by eating, chewing, or speaking
TMD Therapy FAQS
Is TMD treatment painful?
No, most treatments for TMJ are not invasive or painful. When treating patients with TMJ, we believe “less is best” and aim to determine the source of the problem and make necessary corrections without major procedures or surgery whenever possible. Therapies for TMJ may include lifestyle changes, removable orthotic devices, and changes to the occlusion (bite) to correct problems or misalignment.
Do I need surgery to get rid of TMJ?
No, non-invasive common dental procedures can address most TMJ issues. Surgery is only necessary for extreme TMJ issues or jaw deformities.
Will a TMJ Disorder go away on its own?
TMJ issues typically only resolve themselves in very mild or temporary cases, and there is no way of predicting whether or not this will happen. If your TMJ pain is persistent or long-term, it will not go away without medical intervention from a qualified TMJ dentist.
Precision Orthotics (Splints and Night Guards)
Treatment for TMD often includes Precision Orthotics of specific designs which can help correct poor bites, reduce muscle activity such as clenching and grinding, and decrease stresses at the TMJ. While Precision Orthotics are able to achieve a wider scope of relief, splints and night guards—acrylic appliances used to solely protect teeth— can offer additional relief. We use digital technologies to help tailor appliances to each patient for the highest level of accuracy.
Dental Sleep Appliances and Titration
Airway restrictions and Sleep Apnea have become an increasingly frequent and serious health issue for patients of all ages. Decreased and compromised oxygen intake can lead to heart problems, stress on various organs, Type II Diabetes, Gastric Reflux, daytime sleepiness, depression, headaches, teeth grinding, and increased risk of heart attacks, strokes, and death.
A thorough dental examination can identify risk factors indicative of sleep-disordered breathing. We work under the close guidance of Board Certified Sleep Physicians and with some of the best sleep physicians in the area.
When your doctor or dentist diagnoses you with an airway issue, a removable oral appliance may relieve symptoms of snoring and mild-to-moderate sleep apnea. This custom-fitted appliance helps keep the jaws in a forward alignment to maintain an open airway during sleep. The dental laboratory fabricates each oral appliance to fit each patient perfectly. Your dentist can carefully adjusts it for optimal results. Home studies help us titrate the appliance to achieve maximum effectiveness.
Dr. Cobb has advanced training in dental sleep medicine and is one of a small number of dentists to complete the rigorous training and examination process to be certified as a Diplomate in the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine.
Long Term Solutions for TMD and Airway Issues
Unfortunately, it is not uncommon to have worn, broken, or missing teeth, failed restorations, and a smile you’re not happy with. In addition to general wear and tear and other dental causes, doctors commonly associate TMD and Airway issues with these complications. There are many options for long-term solutions. The key to determining the appropriate course of treatment begins with diagnosing the root causes of discomfort and dissatisfaction and then following a predictable process to create a pathway to correction.
Dental Health and Overall Health Connection
Your mouth is a window into the health of the body. Hidden dental problems can contribute to serious health problems. Good oral hygiene combined with routine dental care is the best way to healthy gums and a healthy mouth. We take a holistic approach to the evaluation and treatment of your oral health, keeping in mind the relationship to your overall physical health and well-being.
Oral health is associated with:
- Sleep Apnea
- Acid reflux
- Heart disease
Dental and Medical Referrals
Certain complex cases necessitate care from additional healthcare professionals. Dr. Cobb and Dr. Cima have spent years developing a trusted network of some of the best practitioners in the area. When needed, we will help coordinate care to make the referral process as seamless as possible.