Tag Archives: New Orleans TMJ dentist

Custom mouthpiece for grinding because of meds?

My dentist is trying to convince me to get this custom-fitted device to sleep with. He says I’m grinding my teeth because of the medicine I take. First, wouldn’t I know if I happened to be grinding my teeth and second, can medicines really make you do that? Does it even matter?

Clark

Dear Clark,

custom-fitted trays
Custome-fitted mouthpiece’s will protect your teeth.

I promise your dentist isn’t trying to pull one over on you. Everything he said is based in fact. Most patients doen’t realize they are grinding their teeth, because it happens at night while they’re sleeping.

The Consequences of Grinding and Clenching

Griding and clenching your teeth is known as bruxism. When you do that habitually, whether intentionally or not, your teeth begin to wear down. In some cases, I’ve seen them worn down to nubs and the patient had to have all their teeth crowned. This is known as a full-mouth reconstruction and is very costly.

In addition to wearing down the teeth, you can also end up chipping or even cracking them . Cracked teeth will also have to be crowned in order to save them.

A nightguard protects your teeth from the force of these motions. Even though you likely won’t be able to stop doing them, your teeth won’t bear the consequences.

Be on the Lookout for TMJ Disorder

With constant motion of your jaw in grinding, you’re in danger of another kind of problem. You could wear down your temporomandibular joint, leading to TMJ disorder.

Here are some symptoms to look out for:

  • Jaw Pain
  • Clicking in the Jaw
  • Migraines, especially in the morning

If any of these pick up, you’ll want to see a dentist who has some special training in TMJ.

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

Do I Have tmj or tmd?

I’m a little confused about which problem I have. I’ve been having problems with severe headaches and pain in my jaw. Someone said they think I have TMJ . I went home to look that up and there seems to be two things. One is called TMJ and one is called TMD. How do I know which one I have?

Carol

Dear Carol,

close up of temporomadibular joint

There’s a good reason you are confused about this. Even though they have two different technical meanings, people (especially patients) use them synonymously.

TMJ refers to the temporomadibular joint. I’ve placed a picture of it above so you can see a close up of it. TMD refers to the disorder of the temporomandibular joint.

Generally, when people say TMJ they mean TMJ disorder (or TMD).

If You Have TMJ Disorder

The symptoms you’ve described above do relate to TMJ Disorder.
There are many possible reasons for developing jaw problems. Your next step would be to see a dentist with expertise in TMJ problems, so he can properly diagnose the cause.

You want a dentist who’ has invested in significant post-doctoral training in TMJ diagnosis and treatment. For instance, Dr. Delaune has done extensive training with the world renown Dawson Academy.

There is not a recognized TMJ Specialty so any general dentist can call themselves a TMJ dentist. That makes it especially important you know that the dentist you’re dealing with is actually qualified.

Treatments vary depending on the cause. It can range from a simple orthotic device up to a full-mouth reconstruction. Good dentists start with the most conservative treatment except for the most rare, devastating cases.

I hope this helps. This blog is brought to you by New Orleans Dentist Dr. Duane Delaune.

My Husband Says My Migraines are From TMJ

I take medicine for migraines every day. My husband, who is not a big believer in medications, thinks I’m probably getting the migraines from TMJ disorder and the medicine is not necessary. How do I know if he’s right?

Adeline

Dear Adeline,

close up of temporomadibular joint

Migraines can be the result of TMJ disorder, but there are normally other signs which accompany it. Here are some of the more common symptoms.

  • Painful jaw muscles
  • Popping or clicking of jaw joints
  • Worn teeth
  • Ear pain

There are others as well, but these are some generalized indicators. Though a self-diagnosis will do you little good. Your best bet is to see a dentist who treats TMJ. They can give you a thorough exam and narrow down the cause of your particular TMJ.

For instance, worn teeth are usually a sign you grind or clench your teeth. Not only can this lead to TMJ, but it also wears your teeth down to nubs, requiring them to need dental crowns in order to function properly. Yet, a simple night guard worn at night can completely protect your teeth and ease up the pressure to your jaw.

In other cases, it’s a matter of your bite being thrown off by poor alignment. There can be several solutions for this depending on the severity of the problem.

Who Should Treat Your TMJ?

There isn’t a recognized specialty in TMJ, therefore any dentist can technically claim to treat it. However, the way the muscles, joints, and teeth line up is a complicated matter and requires some post-doctoral training in order to be effective. It’s imperative you see a dentist who’s invested time in learning how to properly treat it at a reputable institution.

Here are some well-qualified places a dentist may go to get trained in TMJ Disorder:

  • The Kois Center
  • The Pankey Institute
  • Dawson Academy
  • Las Vegas Institute of Advanced Dental Studies

Any of these places offers extensive instruction on the diagnosis and treatment of TMJ Disorder. You should be in safe hands with a dentist who’s studied at one of them.

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

Can My Dentist Treat My TMJ?

I was talking to my dentist about some jaw pain. He asked me a few questions and said he thinks I have TMJ disorder. We scheduled a follow-up appointment to run some additional tests and discuss treatment. After I got home I started wondering if instead of just going to my general dentist about this I should schedule an appointment with a TMJ Dentist. What do you think? Is it safe to stay with my dentist for this?

Miranda W.

Dear Miranda,

A woman holding her jaw from TMJ pain

Your doubts are based on a common misunderstanding about TMJ. There isn’t really such a thing as a TMJ Dentist. By that I mean there isn’t a recognized TMJ specialty with the American Dental Association (ADA). All TMJ dentists are just general dentists. That being said, it doesn’t mean every general dentist is qualified to treat TMJ. It does require specialized training. So how do you know if your particular dentist has what it takes?

The first thing I’d do is check their website. If they have a TMJ page, check to see if they list any specific training. If they don’t have a page, check their bio. They should list some respected institute where they did post-doctoral studies in TMJ diagnosis and treatment. For instance, Dr. Delaune trained at the esteemed Dawson Academy. Other respected institutes would be among the following:

  • The Las Vegas Institute for Advanced Dental Studies (LVI)
  • The Kois Center
  • The Pankey Institute
  • Spear Institute

There are others, but these are among the best.

Warning Signs about TMJ Dentist

One thing to be aware of is aggressiveness in treatment. Dentists with expertise in TMJ will start with the least invasive treatment options first. If your dentist goes straight to suggesting a full mouth reconstruction, I’d quickly get a second opinion. Those are only necessary in severe cases and other solutions are tried first.

Often jaw pain can be caused by teeth grinding or clenching. Patients may not even recognize they’re doing it, especially if it only occurs while they’re sleeping. In that case, wearing a simple custom-fitted night guard is all you need to solve the problem.

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

Is Jaw Pain Diet Related?

I have pretty severe jaw pain, especially in the mornings. My sister said it’s my diet and I need to eat only whole foods. I switched to a whole foods diet. I’ve been on it a few weeks and haven’t had any relief. Do I need to give it more time? I can’t decide if this is diet related or dental related?

Carla T. – Georgia

Carla,

There are some conditions that are thought to be diet related and while, if you eat something that aggravated your jaw it can cause pain, diet will not cause the type of pain you’re describing.

Because it’s stronger in the morning, and I suspect you probably get morning headaches as well. I’d look into night grinding and TMJ.

See a dentist who’s received significant training in TMJ diagnosis and treatment. It’s not a recognized specialty, so a general dentist will have to put forth specific effort to receive the training. Don’t be shy about asking them where they studied TMJ. We’re not talking about where they studied in dental school. This needs to be post-graduate training. For instance, Dr. Delaune, studied at the Dawson Academy.

If it turns out that you’re grinding your teeth at night, that would explain your jaw pain. A simple night guard should solve the problem.

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

Why Is My Dentist Sending Me Somewhere Else for My TMJ?

My dentist thinks I have TMJ, but he wants to send me somewhere else for treatment.  I thought all dentists treated TMJ.

Michelle – Ohio

Michelle,

While all dentists can treat TMJ, some have more training in treating TMJ than others. It sounds like your dentist feels like you would get better care with another dentist in this case. What that tells me is you have a dentist who really wants to be certain you get the best care possible. That’s something to be lauded.

If your dentist didn’t recommend a specific TMJ dentist, I’ll give you a couple of things to look for. You want a dentist who’s had post-graduate training in TMJ.

Some great training to look for is Dawson Academy, the Las Vegas Institute for Advanced Dental Studies (LVI),  Spear, or the Kois Center. There are others too, but these are among the top.

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

Do I Need to Get a Second Opinion from a TMJ Dentist?

I went through about two years of braces when I was a teen and I stuck with it. I even wore the retainer like I was supposed to for years. Now my dentist says my bite isn’t right. He wants me to get crowns on all my teeth to fix it. In all fairness, I’ve already had a couple of cavities, and I think we got on this because I said I wanted my teeth whiter, but getting crowns everywhere seems excessive to me. Should I get a second opinion from a TMJ dentist about my bite,  or is what he’s telling me on the up and up?

Lance

Dear Lance,

A second opinion from someone with significant training in TMJ dentistry  would be a good idea. There’s a whole lot going on here and it’s unclear why your dentist made the recommendation he did.

TMJ problems are serious, and they do need correction, but based on what you’ve documented here, I’ve seen no indication of you haven’t indicated that you have any TMJ symptoms. Those would include jaw pain, popping, grinding, clicking, or generalized mouth pain, and migraines. These symptoms would make me suspect TMJ.

As for having the crowns done, this is one way to go about correcting bite issues, but there are also less invasive and less expensive ways to go about doing it, too.

Wanting whiter teeth is no excuse to jump in and get crowns either. Unless you’ve had work done on your front teeth, you can just have teeth whitening done, for a fraction of the cost and without affecting healthy tooth structure. Even if you do already have dental work on those teeth, you can have it replaced after whitening so it all matches.

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.

Is there an over-the-counter fix for TMJ?

My mom and dad have both recently suffered some major medical issues that have caused a lot of stress both physically and financially for our family. There’s just not a lot of extra money right now. I have TMJ and all the stress has caused a flare-up and I literally can’t open my mouth. My jaw has been locked for several weeks. I’m in so much pain! I’ve seen those mouth appliances you can buy at the drug store for about $20. Would one of them help? — Sasha

Dear Sasha,
Sorry to hear that you’re going through so much right now. Hopefully things will get better from here on out. As for the TMJ, there are a couple of things you can try at home to help with the inflammation:

  1. Alternate between heat and ice packs (for about 10 minutes at a time) on your jaw joints
  2. Take 800mg of Ibuprofen three times a day

If the dentist is simply out of the question right now, try the store-bought mouth guard as it will be better than doing nothing. If you’re grinding your teeth a lot, just be careful and check that you’re not wearing it through. Hopefully, though, it will help protect your teeth for now. They come in small, medium, large or one-size-fits-all, but regardless of what you buy, keep in mind that it won’t be a perfect fit since it’s not custom made.

For moderate to severe temporomandibular joint dysfunction like you are experiencing, a custom night guard made by your dentist is really the best way to go. If you have dental insurance they may cover all or even a portion of the cost. Make a call and find out. Another option would be to see if your dentist offers CareCredit. It’s a no-interest medical card you can apply for if you don’t have insurance, but have adequate credit. Check into both of these options since your TMJ is fairly severe – it will be worth it in the end if you can get a custom-fit appliance and get this flare-up under control.

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.