TMJ therapy options available at Payson, UT area dental practice
When you think of dental concerns, gum disease and cavities often come to mind. But there are many other conditions that can impact the smile. TMJ, which stands for temporomandibular joint, is the jaw joint that hinges the lower jaw to the skull. Sometimes, this jaw and the muscles around it can become dysfunctional, resulting in a range of problems to the patient. This condition, called TMD, does require treatment to reduce pain and eliminate locking of the jaw in the open or closed position. At Gunnerson Dental in Payson, Utah, we are excited to offer TMJ therapy options for patients.
What types of TMJ therapy are available at Gunnerson Dental?
Our provider is pleased to offer a few different solutions for patients who have been diagnosed with TMD. These include the following:
- Oral orthodontic device – many of our patients with mild to moderate TMD will find relief with an oral orthodontic device. This is a specialized mouthguard that patients can wear to keep the jaw aligned and reduce common issues associated with this condition, specifically pain.
- Myofunctional therapy – another option is orofacial myofunctional therapy. This type of therapy is a series of exercises that patients can use to activate and improve the function of many muscles in the face and mouth area. These exercises are done regularly until proper function resolves, and patients no longer experience symptoms of TMD, obtaining pain relief.
- Cold laser therapy – a revolutionary alternative now available for TMD patients is cold laser therapy, which uses state-of-the-art laser equipment that emits light protons to penetrate deep into the tissues that surround the joint to decrease inflammation and provide almost instant relief in patients who suffer from chronic issues, such as headaches, related to their condition.
Connect with Dr. Cheyn Gunnerson today to learn about TMJ therapy options
Our team is dedicated to helping patients find ways to address a range of dental issues, including temporomandibular joint disorder. If you live in or around the area of Payson, Utah and are considering the benefits of working with a TMJ therapy dentist, call Gunnerson Dental today at (801) 658-0175. We accept new patients in the community into our facility, conveniently located at 33 W 300 S.
Frequently asked questions
TMJ disorder, also referred to as TMD, stands for Temporomandibular joint disorder. The temporomandibular joint involves both sides of your lower jaw. It is different from any other joint in the body as it does not rotate in the socket, but moves along the bones of the skull. The TMD joint is what holds your jaw in place to the rest of your head. It is located just in front of your ears. If you place two fingers in front of your ears, and open and close your mouth, you may be able to feel the joint moving.
Common symptoms of TMJ disorder are: lockjaw (jaw joint either locking open or closed), clicking or popping when you chew or yawn, Limited range of motion in the jaw, ear pain, ringing in your ears, chronic facial pain, chronic neck or back pain, painful swallowing, teeth grinding or teeth pain, sensitive teeth, chronic headaches and migraines, dizziness and loss of balance.
If you're experiencing any of these symptoms we highly recommend a TMJ Therapy consultation.
TMJ disorders and Sleep Apnea are not necessarily related, however, many people who suffer from sleep apnea also suffer from a TMJ disorder. One symptom of sleep apnea is clenching at night in your sleep. Clenching pushes the bones of the jaw deep into the joint causing inflammation in the joint space. This inflammation leads to TMJ issues.
This depends on the severity of the case. In some instances the temporomandibular joint disorder has reached a point where it can no longer be completely reversed. Much like having arthritis in the hands or the knees. However, through proper treatment, healing of the joint can occur and a pseudo disc can be created to prevent further damage to the joint relieving many symptoms of TMD.
Frequently patients who have TMD disorders also experience ringing in their ears or ‘tinnitus’. Due to the inflammation of the joint and the pull on the muscles and ligaments holding the joint in place, many patients experience ringing in their ears.
When an individual is experiencing TMJ issues, the body's natural response is to move away from the area of irritation. The body can’t move away from the joint but instead individuals will tilt their head or rotate the head slightly to one side or forward. The subtle change in position puts an individual off balance and creates potential dizziness.
TMJ disorders are caused by multiple factors. Often they are a result of trauma, such as being hit or bumped in the face, causing the jaw to fall out of alignment and the disc to become displaced.
TMJ can also be caused by improper use of the facial muscles used for swallowing and chewing. This often starts as early as infancy as a result of a tongue tie or similar palate issue. Disorders of this type can be treated with Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy in childhood.
Another cause of TMJ disorders is sleep apnea. Untreated sleep apnea can result in clenching and grinding of teeth during the night. Clenching pushes the bones of the jaw deep into the joint causing inflammation in the joint space. This inflammation leads to TMJ issues.
Orofacial Myofunctional therapy specifically targets the facial and throat muscles through physical conditioning. Oral issues such as: a small palate, teeth crowding and sleep apnea can be a result of improper use of the facial muscles. These problems often begin in childhood as a result of tongue ties or similar palate issues.
Therapy is performed by a clinical assistant or dental hygienist who specialize and are trained in Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy.
TMJ disorders can be treated aggressively through surgery or can be treated in a more non-invasive method by decompressing the joint space for a period of time. This is accomplished through the use of medical orthotics custom made to your individual condition. At TMJ & Sleep Therapy of Utah we recommend a less invasive option before resorting to surgery.
By using tools such as custom orthotics, cold laser therapy, orofacial myofunctional therapy, and consistent examinations TMJ & Sleep Therapy of Utah is well equipped to help individuals treat their TMJ issues.
The body's natural response to pain is to move away from what is causing the irritation. This is all done on a subconscious level. When we have inflammation in the joint or pain, the subconscious will tilt your head forward putting more pressure on your neck and shoulders. The pressure frequently leads to irritation of the nerves that run through the areas of the neck. Not only can this result in neck and shoulder pain but also hip and back pain due to the change in your posture. When nerves become pinched in the neck, it can lead to craniofacial pain such as headaches. The pinched nerves can also create symptoms in the arms and hands similar to carpal tunnel syndrome.