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TMJ Treatment & Headache Relief

Below is another excellent video that shows both the correlation between possible airway disruptions and grinding that leads to TMJ disorder and other problems.

   You may have heard someone say that they have TMJ. TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint, which is the joint that moves the lower jaw. There are no TMJ specialists in Victoria, and very few programs across the country in fact. That doesn’t lessen the need, as there are many TMJ patients who need dental TMJ treatment in Victoria, Tx and headache relief from teeth grinding. I have sought further training from numerous TMJ specialists and at the Pankey Institute so that I can help my patients that suffer from TMJ disorder.

I myself have suffered from TMJ disorder too, so I know what it feels like to be the patient as well as the treating dentist. I also know that it can and will get better if properly treated. There is not a one size fits all treatment for TMJ pain, as it is individual for each patient. Most patients respond well to a bite splint as I demonstrate below in photos. Some might require us to modify the design, use a different appliance or even in some cases involve a physical therapist to get us the last bit of relief needed.  As for myself, I did fantastic with the night time splint. But I was also clenching during the day and was not even aware of doing it. I used  invisalign orthodontics in order to reposition my upper molars in line with the other molars. In my case when I had braces as a child they did not bracket the second molars and they contacted prematurely. This damaged the teeth and gums, therefore I am going to move them where they should have been all along.

This is an in depth topic, so many different treatments and theories that I could not begin to cover them here in my site. I will give you the gist of what it is and what to do about it.

TMJ disorder ( or TMD )  is basically dysfunction with or without pain in anywhere in the teeth and or the joint. Sounds a little confusing right? There is a wide variety of signs and symptoms. Some people may not have pain, but may have TMJ damage. Others may have headaches or migraines or pain in the ear. Many will hear or feel a clicking noise near the ear when eating or opening the mouth. The teeth may be sore with no visual sign of why they are sore. Ringing in the ears or pain in the ear can also be symptoms. Unexplained pain behind the eyes can be a symptom too. There are numerous studies indicating that a high percentage of patients who have TMJ are grinding their teeth due to a breathing disorder or sleep apnea.

There are too many variations of the above to list, so lets talk about TMJ treatments that we offer in our Victoria Tx dental office.

Dentistry & TMD Treatment in Victoria TX

Bite Splint worn by patient

TMJ Treatment & Dental Work in Victoria TX

Bite Splint- During the adjustment procedure different colors are used so we can precisely adjust the splint.

In dental school, we were taught to make a “night guard”. This worked most of the time, but sometimes patients didn’t have the same success as others. If you notice, we call them “splints” rather than night guards. This is because we are trying to reposition the jaw joint up into its proper anatomical position in the socket, which is the most restful position for the joint while at the same time the teeth have even contact on the splint.

Some patients will sometimes try the store bought night guards from the grocery store out of desperation for some relief. They have the right idea and sometimes they may get some temporary relief. But what they typically find out is that they may either be uncomfortable and wear out quickly, or it may help for a while and then stop helping. These temporary guards are made of softer plastic that the points of the teeth can sink into. This can have a tendency to make the patient clench into it more and sometimes escalate the symptoms.

Cold Laser TMJ Therapy

Using the special Deep Tissue Healing Laser Tip that you see to the left, we can use the cold laser to stop acute TMJ pain. It also accelerates the healing process of the ligaments and other tissues in the TMJ. It does so by improving mitochondrial function and lymph drainage.

The cold laser as the name implies does not cut or burn and is not painful to use. In fact it typically stops the pain. We can use it not only on the TMJ but any and all associated muscles that are painfully involved with the TMJ symptoms.

TMJ Problems due to a Bad Bite

Dentists & TMJ Treatments in Victoria TX
The “ball” of the ball and socket joint of the jaw can be positioned out of the socket to some degree by the muscles. This is usually done to avoid a tooth that may be hitting harder than the others. It can also be positioned this way so that all the teeth can come together at the same time. Some reasons why the difference in where the teeth come together and the jaw not being in the socket can occur naturally from habit or as a result of braces, if it was not taken into account during orthodontics.

Sleep Disordered Breathing Associated Teeth Grinding TMJ

Sleep Apnea is another condition that is correlated with nocturnal teeth grinding. There is a high degree of correlation between night time teeth grinding and breathing issues like sleep apnea. Intermittent between the non breathing episodes, there will often be severe teeth grinding which is the body’s mechanism to open the airway and get more oxygen into the bloodstream. So, sleep breathing disorders are a common cause of TMJ and severely worn teeth.

Read more about this topic on our sleep apnea and dental snoring treatment page.

Here is an article describing it in greater detail:

Teeth Grinding Linked to Sleep Apnea

Bruxism Prevalent in Caucasians with Sleep Disorders

SAN DIEGO, Nov. 2 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — There is a high prevalence of nocturnal teeth grinding, or bruxism, in patients with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), particularly in Caucasians. New research presented at CHEST 2009, the 75th annual international scientific assembly of the American College of Chest Physicians (ACCP), found that nearly 1 in 4 patients with OSA suffers from nighttime teeth grinding; this seems to be especially more prevalent in men and in Caucasians compared with other ethnic groups.

It is estimated that 8 percent of the general US population suffers from bruxism, a condition frequently associated with a preexisting dental or jaw disorders, as well as stress.

“The relationship between obstructive sleep apnea and sleep bruxism is usually related to an arousal response. The ending of an apneic event may be accompanied by a number of mouth phenomena, such as snoring, gasps, mumbles, and teeth grinding,” said Shyam Subramanian, MD, FCCP, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX. “Men typically have more severe sleep apnea, and perhaps may have more arousal responses, which may explain the higher prevalence of teeth grinding in men. Besides, men characteristically tend to report more symptoms of sleep apnea than women, such as snoring, loud grunting, and witnessed apneas.”

Other factors that might help explain the relationship between sleep apnea and teeth grinding include anxiety and caffeine use.

“High levels of anxiety can lead to bruxism, and untreated sleep apnea is known to cause mood disturbances including depression and anxiety,” said Dr. Subramanian. “Daytime sleepiness from sleep apnea may cause a person to ingest caffeine, and this has also been associated with a high risk of bruxism.”

Through a retrospective chart review, Dr. Subramanian and his colleagues, from the Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX, assessed the prevalence of bruxism and gastroesophageal reflux (GERD) in 150 men and 150 women with OSA. Each group consisted of 50 Caucasians, 50 African-Americans, and 50 Hispanics. Results showed that 25.6 percent of patients suffered from teeth grinding, while 35 percent of all patients with OSA complained of nocturnal heartburn and GERD symptoms.

The researchers also examined the influence of gender and ethnicity on OSA, GERD, and bruxism. They found that bruxism was higher in men than in women — 43 percent vs. 31 percent. Caucasians had the highest rate of bruxism compared to other ethnic groups — 35 percent vs. 19 percent in Hispanics. African-Americans have the highest prevalence of GERD — 40 percent vs. 31 percent in the Hispanic population and 34 percent in Caucasians. Overall, no correlation was observed between the presence of self-reported GERD and bruxism.

Untreated bruxism can lead to excessive tooth wear and decay, periodontal tissue damage, jaw pain and temporomandibular joint or TMJ pain, headaches, and sleep disturbances for patients and their bed partners.

“Bruxism can be both a daytime syndrome as well as a nighttime syndrome, but it is bruxism during sleep, including short naps, that causes the majority of health issues,” said Dr. Subramanian. “Studies do suggest that when sleep bruxism is related to OSA, certain therapies, including continuous positive airway pressure, may eliminate bruxism during sleep.”

“Sleep disorders such as sleep apnea can lead to many secondary health conditions,” said Kalpalatha Guntupalli, MD, FCCP, President of the American College of Chest Physicians. “When treating sleep apnea, clinicians must also recognize and address secondary health conditions, such as bruxism, in order to fully manage a patient’s sleep disorder.”

CHEST 2009 is the 75th annual international scientific assembly of the American College of Chest Physicians, held October 31-November 5 in San Diego, CA. The ACCP represents 17,400 members who provide patient care in the areas of pulmonary, critical care, and sleep medicine in the United States and throughout the world. The ACCP’s mission is to promote the prevention and treatment of diseases of the chest through leadership, Education, research, and communication. For more information about the ACCP, please visit the ACCP Web site at SOURCE American College of Chest Physicians

If you suspect that you or someone you know has TMJ disorder, it is not something that you have to live with. Long term, there can be serious damage to the joint and the teeth, as well as headaches of unknown origin. We can treat this condition with our bite splint and other noninvasive treatments in our Victoria dentist office please call (361) 573-7722

TMJ Treatment in Victoria TX