Category Archives: TMJ Specialist

does tmj mean surgery?

I’m 27 years old and have been dealing with a significant amount of jaw pain. I did some research online and it sounds like I may have TMJ. Everything I read says the treatments for this are jaw reconstruction or having all your teeth re-made. That sounds terrifying to me. In fact, I’m a little too scared to see a dentist about it in case they say that is what I need. Are there any other options? What happens if I just don’t treat it and just deal with the pain with medications?

Morgan

Dear Morgan,

close up of temporomadibular joint
TMJ disorder has various causes and solutions

Before you panic, let me assure you there are many causes and solutions for TMJ Disorder. As you can see from the image above, your TMJ joint is similar to your knee joint. It has movable parts and a disc which serves as a buffer. There are also lots of muscles that help with the various movements requisite to good jaw function. This is known as the temporomandibular joint (hence the TMJ).

Treatments like full-mouth reconstruction or jaw surgery are for the most severe cases, usually after years of going without treatment or a tragic accident. It doesn’t sound like that is what you’re dealing with.

The first step to any treatment is a diagnosis of what is causing the problem in the first place.

Two Causes for TMJ Disorder

One common cause for this is pressure you’ve put on the jaw joint. This is done through clenching your jaw or grinding your teeth. This often happens without a patient even realizing it because they do it in their sleep.

If you get treatment for this early on, before too much damage is done, there is no invasive treatment. It can often be handled simply by wearing a night guard to protect your teeth and add some cushion to assist with the pressure on your jaw.

Another cause is misalignment of your bite. Our teeth shift over time. It could be that yours have shifted in a way that has caused pressure on your jaw.

In some cases, this can be fixed with orthodontics such as Invisalign. Other, more severe cases, will require a full-mouth reconstruction. This latter treatment can also happen if you don’t get teeth grinding under control and your teeth get worn down to nubs.

Full-Mouth Reconstruction

With this procedure a dentist has to crown all of your teeth. This is either because they are too worn down from grinding or your bite is so far out of alignment this is necessary to repair it.

This is quite an advanced procedure and would require a dentist with significant training in TMJ Disorders as well as cosmetic dentistry.

Look for a dentist who trained at one of the following:

  • Dawson Academy
  • J.D Pankey Institute
  • The Las Vegas Institute of Advanced Dental Studies

This will take care of their TMJ qualifications. To find out if they’re also a great cosmetic dentist, go to the mynewsmile.com website to see if they’re recommended . They pre-screen cosmetic dentists for both their technical skill and artistry.

This blog is brought to you by New Orleans Dentist Dr. Duane Delaune.

Do I Need a TMJ Specialist?

I told my dentist about a pain in my jaw. He decided I have TMJ and keeps giving me Botox injections. While the injections help, I don’t want to need them for the rest of my life. If I went to a TMJ Specialist would there be a permanent solution?

Gina

Dear Gina,

A woman holding her jaw from TMJ pain

TMJ Disorder can be very complex. Often, there’s more than one factor. If all your dentist is doing is the Botox injections without looking for what could be causing it, then yes, you’ll want to see someone else. Unfortunately, there’s no such thing as a TMJ Specialist as far as a recognized specialty goes. But, there are some things to look for when choosing a dentist to treat your TMJ.

You’ll want a dentist who has invested in post-doctoral training in the diagnosis and treatment of TMJ Disorder. Some of the more reputable institutions are:

  • The Dawson Academy
  • The Seattle Institute
  • The Kois Center
  • Pankey Center
  • Las Vegas Institute (LVI)

Dentists who’ve studied with one of these institutions will be a practitioner who can help find the root cause or causes of your particular TMJ problems.

A couple of Causes of TMJ

One leading cause of TMJ problems is teeth grinding or clenching. Over time, this not only does damage to the hinge joint, but it is also devastating to your teeth. It can cause them to crack or break, requiring dental crowns. It can even cause them to come loose.

The grinding motion wears them down to nubs and could end up costing tens of thousands of dollars for a full-mouth reconstruction. To make matters worse, if you don’t regularly see a dentist you may never know you’re even doing it until it is too late. That’s because most people do it in their sleep.

Fortunately, for most patients, when caught early, there’s a simple fix. A night guard can protect your teeth. It fits like a custom made comfortable mouth guard and places a barrier between your teeth.

Another cause is malalignment of the teeth. If your bite is off, it can throw off your jaw joint leading to serious TMJ problems, including lockjaw. Sometimes, it is just a matter of simple orthodontics, other times it’s more serious.

A good dentist will always start with the least invasive treatment before moving onto other more drastic measures.

Best of luck to you.
This blog is brought to you by New Orleans Dentist Dr. Duane Delaune.

I’ve Seen a Specialist; Why Do I Still Have TMJ Pain?

I have been a TMJ sufferer for years. I was first diagnosed with TMD by my general dentist during a routine exam. At the time I had jaw pain, limited range of motion, headaches, and popping. He sent me to a specialist who made me a night guard. He told me it should alleviate my problems. After a few weeks of relief, the discomfort was more consistent, so he made me a TMJ splint which I wore around the clock. The pain is still present after 2 years. Now he’s talking about surgery. What is going on? Why can’t they fix this?

Kathy B. – Oregon

Kathy,

Diagnosis and treatment of Temporomandibular Disorder (TMD) can be challenging. There are often a variety of overlapping conditions involved. The root of the problem can be in the muscle that controls and affects jaw movement or in the joint itself. An accurate diagnosis is critical for successful treatment. With all the self-proclaimed “TMJ specialists”, it’s important to note that TMJ is not a recognized specialty in dentistry or the medical field.

Since any doctor can claim they specialize in this, it’s important to research reviews online from people who were treated by them for this condition. Be sure to ask the dentist what type of TMJ training he’s had. Dental school is not enough. Despite the fact you’re still struggling, the doctor was on the right track. However, sometimes the best results are seen when treatments are done in combination.

I know it’s frustrating. First, make certain your dentist has the type of training necessary to treat such a complicated issue. For instance, Dr. Delaune studied TMJ at the Dawson Academy. If you can find someone in your area that has similar training, you can have the confidence they’ll find the solution.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Duane Delaune.

Botox is good for wrinkles, but what about for TMJ pain/migraines?

I’ve been dealing with TMJ for many years and also many treatments that never seem to work. I was just about at my wits end when I read some information about Botox being used successfully to treat myofascial pain and migraines caused by TMJ. And of course, I can’t help but consider the cosmetic benefits, too. Can any dentist administer Botox, and if not, how do find someone who can? — Chonda

Chonda,
If you suffer from TMJ pain and/or migraines, Botox has been found to relax the masseter and/or temporalis muscles. It must be placed in several spots in the belly of the muscles and if done correctly, you will notice a difference pretty quickly. It’s important that any TMJ treatment be done by a TMJ specialist — a maxillofacial surgeon, oral surgeon, or general dentist with an extensive background in TMJ. They will be able to assess your bite, understand the underlying causes of your TMJ and they might even have experience with injecting Botox. If not, ask if they work closely with a professional that does. It’s extremely important to do your research before making any sort of decision to move forward. Find out if your provider does this type of treatment, how many patients per month, and what the outcomes were. Best of luck!

This post is sponsored by New Orleans cosmetic dentist Dr. Duane Delaune. Read more about why many consider Dr. Delaune to be the best dentist in New Orleans.

Could molar pain be TMJ?

I have never had a cavity before in my life, but I do grind my teeth at night. I was just at the dentist for a regular check-up three months ago and he said everything was good. This past week or so, my back teeth have started having intermittent pain that goes away after a few seconds. I was telling my co-worker about it and she said she had to go see a TMJ specialist for something similar. Could it really be TMJ and not just a cavity? Should I try and find a TMJ specialist or go back to my regular dentist first and have him check to see if I have a cavity? — Darrin

Darrin,
Because the pain is all over, or generalized in the back of your mouth, it’s probably not a cavity. You’ll need an exam and probably some x-rays to help determine whether you need a TMJ specialist or not. It’s troubling that your nighttime grinding hasn’t been addressed by your general dentist because that can cause some serious damage. Your teeth will likely wear down and they can become loose, cracked, or broken — all from the trauma and pressure of grinding. The fix for this is usually pretty easy. Either a TMJ specialist or your regular dentist, can have a night guard custom made for you. If it is the grinding that’s causing it, the night guard should do the trick.

With that said, it’s not possible to give a definitive answer on this without more information. It could be some kind of referred pain, which would cause issues all over. It could also be a periodontal condition, or any number of other things. Rather than starting off with a TMJ specialist, you can probably see your general dentist for this, though if you can find a professional who is skilled at both general dentistry and TMJ issues, that may be the best way to go.

This post is sponsored by New Orleans cosmetic dentist Dr. Duane Delaune. Read more about why many consider Dr. Delaune to be the best dentist in New Orleans.