Can a Dentist Really Help TMJ?

Can a Dentist Really Help TMJ?

Can a Dentist Really Help TMJ?

If you’re wondering if a dentist can really help TMJ, the answer is “yes”.  With the latest technology, including Digital Occlusal Analysis called Tscan, a dentist can detect occlusal disease.  Occlusal disease is the destructive process that results from a bite in which the teeth are misaligned.  An uneven bite causes strain in the jaw muscles, which ultimately leads to discomfort, pain and TMJ (Temporomandibular joint disorder).

What is TMJ?

On each side of your head is a temporomandibular joint.  These joints attach the lower jawbone to the skull.  When the jaw is correctly aligned, it works like a well-oiled machine but when the jaw is misaligned, it not only impacts the joints themselves but the nerves, muscle groups, and blood vessels that surround it.  Pain that starts in the jaw can resonate throughout the body causing headaches, vertigo, neck and upper back pain, numbness, and many other issues.

TMJ Treatment

What makes Dr. Abeyta and her team so unique is that they never take a one-size-fits-all approach to TMJ. There are many factors that can contribute to TMJ.  The first step is to find out the cause.  The second step is to create an individualized treatment plan that might include:

  • TMJ Botox Trigger Point Therapy – The muscles of the head and neck can be overworked and tense from TMJ dysfunction. Botox is a safe method that helps to relieve chronic muscle head and neck pain along with chronic headaches.
  • Occlusal Guard Therapy – An appliance that fits over the teeth to protect the teeth from excessive wear and repositions the jaw into a comfortable and stable position to allow for proper blood flow into the joint to allow repair and healing.
  • Myofunctional Therapy – Treatment for disorders of the muscles and functions of the face and mouth. It is characterized by an abnormal lip, jaw, or tongue position during rest, swallowing, or speech.
  • TMJ Acupuncture Therapy – Addressing whole body needs, this form of treatment incorporates Oriental Medicine to reduce inflammation and balance the mind, body, and spirit.

TMJ treatment will have you feeling better and living better so that you can take part in this summer’s most enjoyable events, like picnics and hiking.

To learn more about TMJ and treatment options schedule your appointment today with Dr. Abeyta at (505) 293-7611, or Contact us by email. 

What is TMJ and how to get Relief?

What is TMJ and how to get Relief?

What is TMJ and how to get relief from pain, chronic headaches and other symptoms.  TMJ, the temporomandibular joint, is the jaw joint that allows a person to open and close their mouth.  The joint is surrounded by muscles which can become painful and stiff when the jaw is misaligned. The condition can be easily diagnosed by a primary physician or dental practitioner.

What are symptoms of TMJ? 

  • Discomfort, tenderness and pain in the jaw joints and surrounding muscles
  • Chronic headaches/migraines
  • Pain in the throat or temple that radiates down the neck and shoulders
  • Locking of the jaw joint
  • Pain when yawning or chewing
  • Popping or grating sounds when chewing

Each patient’s experience with TMJ differs, but these are the most common symptoms that may indicate a problem with the temporomandibular joint.

What causes TMJ? 

Not all TMJ can be linked to one specific cause, outside of trauma to the jaw or face.  Other factors may include Bruxism, sleep apnea and arthritis.

Bruxism is a common coexisting issue in people who have TMJ.  Bruxism causes grinding and clenching of the teeth, usually while patients are sleeping.  Grinding and clenching can wear down natural tooth enamel and break restorations such as veneers, dental crowns and bridges.

Arthritis can affect any joint in the body. It’s associated with joint overuse, and it becomes more common with age.

Arthritis of the jaw can damage the soft and hard tissues around the joints, changing the shape and functioning of the jaw.

How is TMJ diagnosed?

A medical or dental professional will need to evaluate the patient by physically examining the mouth.  X-rays may be taken to get a better look at the surrounding bone and joint.  With a proper examination, patients will have an accurate diagnosis and from there put an individualized treatment plan into place.

How is TMJ best treated?

There are several ways to treat TMJ.  In rare cases, chronic TMJ may need surgery of the jaw joint.  More often, non-surgical treatments have been proven to reduce pressure on the joints and decrease pain.  Many patients can resume normal activity such as chewing and yawning without discomfort.  Other forms of treatment may include, electrical neural stimulations, massage or an oral appliance.

TMJ is a degenerative and chronic disorder that should be addressed as soon as it is diagnosed.  Proactive treatment can help to alleviate common side effects as well as reduce additional problems that may arise.

If you suffer from jaw pain schedule your appointment today with the office of Dr. Abeyta at 505-293-7611.  Dr. Abeyta will determine the origin of your pain through a series of diagnostic tests. She uses the latest technology, including Digital Occlusal Analysis called Tscan. This state-of-the-art digital software helps detect occlusal disease to aid in treating and protecting the jaw and teeth from unbalanced forces and destruction.

Temporary Relief for Your TMJ

Temporary Relief for Your TMJ

Temporary relief for your TMJ to help reduce inflammation and alleviate pain.

Advice such as applying ice packs, eating soft foods or avoiding jaw movements, though well intended, isn’t very practical for a busy life.  Not all of us can juggle an icepack while we work and living on Jell-O and milkshakes is not the healthiest of diets.   Below are a few real-life tips for temporary TMJ relief.

The Gum Habit

While some people believe gum chewing will aid in the relief of sore jaw muscles, studies have shown this is not true.  Limiting excessive use of the jaw and surrounding muscles is much more effective for relieving TMJ.  We want to take pressure off of the jaw and give it time to rest.  Resting sore joints and muscles is the first step in getting your TMJ symptoms to calm down.  So, for the time being, stash the gum. 

Acupressure for TMJ

Acupressure uses the same trigger points to activate the healing process as acupuncture.  Though acupuncture activates these triggers more powerfully, acupressure is something you can perform on your own.  There are many great online resources for learning acupuncture points.  I bet you didn’t know that some of the more effective points for TMJ are not around the jaw.

Practice Jaw Relaxing – Woosah

It’s amazing how many times during the day people’s jaws become clenched, evening while asleep.  Be mindful during the day and practice different jaw relaxing exercises. 

  1. Press the tip of your tongue to the roof of your mouth, directly behind the top front teeth. Next, use your tongue to apply gentle pressure. Slowly open your mouth as wide as you can, then slowly close it shut. Repeat
  2. Smile as big as you can!  Open your mouth about two inches and release the smile.  Repeat

Check Your Alignment

Have someone take a picture of you sitting a standing.  Do your ears line up with your shoulders?  If not, you may have forward head posture.  This can be a huge factor in TMJ as can other spinal and neck misalignments.   One exercise to help correct this is to stand against a wall or lie down on a hard surface.  Tuck your chin to your chest as if you’re squeezing a book between them and count to 30.  Repeat.  This is a good way to strengthen neck muscles and help relieve TMJ discomfort. 

Consult Your Dentist

The above suggestions are for temporary TMJ relief.   If you have severe TMJ pain or even mild discomfort it may be time to consider a different approach.  Dr. Abeyta will determine the origin of your pain through a series of diagnostic tests.  She uses the latest technology to including Digital Occlusal Analysis called Tscan. This state-of-the-art digital software helps detect occlusal disease to aid in treating and protecting the jaw and teeth from unbalanced forces and destruction. Call today to set up your appointment at (505)-293-7611

Why Jaw Alignment Affects Posture and Balance

Why Jaw Alignment Affects Posture and Balance

Why jaw alignment affects posture and balance negatively is easy to understand.  Remember the children’s song, “Dem Bones”.  Well, just like the song says, everything is connected.  When one part of the body is out of alignment, the whole body is affected.  The jaw is no exception.   

When your upper and lower teeth are clamped together, each tooth forms a tight fellowship with its opposing tooth. This bite determines the position of your jaw, and in turn, the position of your head on your spine.  A misaligned jaw can have a domino effect that alters the posture and sends the entire body out of balance.

Studies have also found that a misaligned jaw can increase muscle strain in the face, neck, head and shoulders.  The continual strain can cause a host of symptoms like backaches, ear ringing, headaches and vertigo.

Strained muscles have been linked to pinched nerves in the face and neck.  These nerves don’t operate separately from the nerves that run throughout the body.   One pinched nerve in the jaw or face can cause numbness and tingling throughout the entire body which in turn impacts nerves that control the balance.

Another problem caused by a poorly aligned jaw is the alteration of the head’s posture.   By changing how the head is held, undue pressure is placed on the spine.  This strain impacts the entire posture and can lead to chronic pain, additional nerve impediment, increased muscle strain…there go those dominoes.

Two studies were conducted to look at the correlation between occlusion, how your teeth fit together, and balance.  Researchers in Australia and Spain held parallel experiments to answer the question. They looked at different malocclusions like crossbite, crowded teeth, gaps between teeth and missing teeth.  First, they demonstrated that these types of tooth problems were linked to poor stability. Then they showed that repositioning the jaw in a neutral position fixed the problem.

Researchers in these studies also discovered that when the jaw was out of position, it would negatively impact the trigeminal nerve, which controls chewing and the vestibular nerve, which controls balance.

A dentist, who understands TMJ, can offer treatment to correct the jaw so that the muscles, bones, and teeth can function without strain and tension.

If you live in or around Albuquerque, New Mexico and have questions about jaw alignment or TMJ, please call the The Best Albuquerque Dentist at 505-293-7611 or visit our contact page to fill out your information and take a virtual tour of our office.

Holistic dentistry – treating the whole patient – Part 2

This post is the second in a two part series on holistic dentistry, airway issues, TMD, and OMDs. If you haven’t already read part 1, I recommend you do before continuing.

Mouth breathing (continued)

When a patient chronically sleeps with their mouth open, it damages tooth enamel and gum tissue, decreases oxygen absorption, and causes other problems. For more information on mouth breathing, check out our page on airway issues.

Acupuncture & oriental medicine

Dr. Abeyta works with Dr. Lee Medina, DOM, to integrate oriental medicine into her practice. One of the most common uses of oriental medicine in Dr. Abeyta’s office is to treat TMD, or temporomandibular joint disorder. TMD is often (although incorrectly) referred to by the abbreviated name of the joint, TMJ. Dr. Medina uses acupuncture, massage, and other non-invasive healing techniques to relax the muscles of the TMJ and provide pain relief for TMD sufferers.

Acupuncture can help alleviate the pain caused my TMD

Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders

Dr. Abeyta works with Sandraluz Gonzalez, a registered dental hygienist, and a certified orofacial myofunctional therapist. Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders (OMDs) are disorders of the muscles and functions of the face and mouth. OMDs may affect, directly and/or indirectly, chewing, swallowing, speech, occlusion, temporomandibular joint movement, oral hygiene, stability of orthodontic treatment, facial esthetics, and more.

Holistic dentistry reflects the interconnected nature of the human body

If you’ve made it this far into this post series, you’re probably starting to get the sense that all the disorders we’re talking about are part of the same, interrelated web of cause and effect. Only by taking a wide view, reinforced by a detailed understanding of the relationships between the body’s various systems, can a medical professional accurately diagnose and recommend treatment for these conditions.

Going to a dentist who is only trained to treat your mouth is a little like going to a mechanic who can only fix transmissions. Sure, they’re important, but there’s a lot of other parts on a car that are crucial, too.

Whether you suffer from TMD, airway issues, other OMDs, or just want to go to the most qualified dental team around, give the office a call today to set up an appointment.

Relieving TMJ Pain – Part 2

[vc_row 0=””][vc_column][vc_column_text 0=””]This post is part of a two part series on treatments for TMJ pain. If you haven’t already read part 1, I reccomend you do so before continuing.

Clinical options for TMJ pain relief (continued)

Botox is an option for treating TMD. This is known as trigger point injection therapy. When botox is injected into specific sites, it helps relieve tension and relax the muscles of the jaw, neck, and face.

There are also clinical treatments that use electricity, ultrasound, or radio waves to penetrate the TMJ and relax the surrounding muscles. Some of these treatments are unproven, and they’re all fairly new. As our understanding of TMD improves, it is likely we will see more types of treatment become available, as well as improvements in our existing therapies. Learn more about clinical treatments for TMJ pain on our TMJ Treatment page.

If no other treatments help your TMD, there are surgical options. However, the vast majority of TMD sufferers can manage their TMJ pain without surgery.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_single_image image=”2527″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center” style=”vc_box_shadow_3d”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

At home options for TMJ pain relief

Obviously you can use NSAIDs like ibuprofen to relieve TMD. This does provide temporary relief, but isn’t a great option for treating a chronic condition. You can also use a moist cold pack to reduce pain and inflammation, or a moist warm pack to help relax the muscles surrounding the TMJ.

There are a few habits you should consider if you suffer from TMJ pain:

  • Avoid hard to chew foods as much as possible
  • Avoid the extremes of your jaw’s range of motion
  • Avoid applying unnecessary forces to your jaw, like resting your chin on your hand or holding the phone between your jaw and shoulder.
  • Try some exercises designed to relieve TMJ pain, if your doctor, dentist, or physical therapist says they’re safe for you.

Get help for your TMJ pain

Dr. Abeyta uses a Digital Occlusal Analysis called Tscan to analyze your jaw and bite. With this information, she will recommend a personalized course of treatment. Don’t suffer pain you don’t have to. Make an appointment today.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]