TMJ/TMD Issues Questions

What is TMJ?

That acronym stands for Temporomandibular Joint, which is the jaw joint. We have one on each side of our head, at the temple, where the lower jaw is connected to the skull. The full name usually used is Temporomandibular Joint Syndrome. It’s also called TMD, for Temporormandibular Joint Disorder. There’s a large group of symptoms typical of TMJ, most of which are painful or uncomfortable. Thinking that they have a migraine, many people with TMJ go to see their doctor and get a prescription for headaches. This is often a good idea, to rule out other possible causes. But eventually, many will realize that TMJ is more than just a headache. The best person to see for effective treatment of TMJ is aneuromuscular dentist such as Dr. Kun.

What are the TMJ symptoms?

  • Severe headaches
  • Popping or clicking sounds when you move your jaw
  • Neck and face pain
  • Shoulder and arm pain
  • Tooth grinding and clenching
  • Over time, wear and tear on the teeth from grinding and misalignment
  • Eventual tooth loss
  • TMJ is a dental problem, since its effects center on the mouth jaws, and teeth.

What causes TMJ?

Trauma can cause it, such as a strong impact in an accident or during sports activities. More often, misaligned teeth cause it because each time we bite, the lower and upper jaws don’t meet in a comfortable position. The teeth don’t meet smoothly, so the facial muscles tense up in their effort to compensate. This chronic tension affects the three major nerves in the area, and the ligaments and tendons associated with the muscles and bones.

There are also some personal habits which can cause or intensify TMJ symptoms. Some are postural, such as poor computer ergonomics, use of a shoulder bag for many years, or placing the telephone receiver between your ear and shoulder. Some are oral habits, such as nail biting, and chewing on ice or gum.

How can a cosmetic dentist help with TMJ symptoms?

If misaligned teeth are part of the problem, a good cosmetic dentist can help. A bad bite is known as malocclusion, and can begin in childhood or adolescence, while the teeth are growing in. Each person is different so a consultation with Dr. Kun would be the first step.

There are conservative treatments which don’t alter your teeth or jaw permanently, and more aggressive treatments which can involve realignment of your teeth, and even a full mouth reconstruction.

How can I get relief from the pain of these symptoms?

You can do some things at home, and you can get Dr. Kun’s help since he has equipment that will relax your jaw, relieving the pain. At home:

Moist heat, such as a heat pack wrapped in a moist towel, will help relieve pain
Ice packs wrapped in a clean cloth will help reduce swelling and reduce pain; use for no more than about 15 minutes at a time
Avoid hard or crunchy foods, giving your jaw a rest
Avoid biting on anything that requires you to open your jaw very widely, such as an apple
Deep, slow breathing and relaxation techniques can help. You might try a DVD with soothing music and explanation of relaxing exercises

At Dr. Kun’s office:

Dr. Kun has a TENS unit. You can sit back comfortably in a chair while strategically-placed patches deliver a gentle electrical stimulation to your face and head. It feels like a soft tapping on the skin, and after about a half-hour, you’ll be relaxed and pain-free.

After a TENS treatment, Dr. Kun will measure and record your jaw position, because that will be its natural position. He can use this as a goal for further dental treatment. Contact our office today for more information.

If you’re near Whitehall, PA, contact Dr. Kun today to set up your initial consultation. You can be confident of receiving the best care possible, so contact us today.