Dr. Brent Blaylock offers complete restorative dental services, including diagnosis and treatment for complex adult dental problems, including temporomandibular disorders (TMD). Commonly called TMJ, a temporomandibular disorder is often the result of an imbalance in the bite which can lead to not only painful symptoms, but damage to the jaw joint(s), teeth and/or gums.
Dr. Blaylock, a trusted dentist in Durham NC, has extensive post-graduate training in the treatment of bite disorders and applies the Dawson Academy principles of complete dentistry when recommending and providing TMJ treatment in Durham. Complete dentistry focuses on a thorough examination of all parts of the occlusal system, looking for signs of instability that can be the underlying cause of dental health concerns. Identifying dental problems with a holistic approach improves both results and the patient experience.
The successful treatment of TMJ is important for long-term dental health and a functional bite.
TMJ Treatment in Durham, NC
One of the most commonly misdiagnosed dental problems, temporomandibular disorders (TMD) affects millions of adults who often have unexplained toothaches, facial pain, and headaches. Commonly referred to by patients as “TMJ”, TMD is a complex group of disorders that is often misunderstood by the medical and dental communities.
TMJ can have a variety of causes, most of which are related to an imbalance in the bite which puts undue pressure on the jaw joints. This often results in pain, headaches, and clicking or popping of the jaw point. TMJ can also lead to teeth grinding and/or clenching which can cause damage to the teeth and gums over time.
A functional bite means that all parts of the occlusal system (teeth, gums, and jaw joints) are working together harmoniously. Dr. Blaylock will evaluate all parts of the occlusal system during a thorough dental exam and recommend appropriate treatment to address dental problems affecting the bite.
Signs & Symptoms of TMJ
In almost all cases, a TMJ disorder will cause tooth wear and may contribute to tooth decay and/or (gum) disease.
Common TMJ Symptoms include:
- Teeth grinding or clenching, often characterized by tooth wear
- Neck and shoulder pain
- Limited mobility in the jaw
- Clicking or popping when opening or closing jaw
During a consultation or routine dental care, Dr. Blaylock will look for signs of TMJ such as worn or damaged teeth. If you are experiencing frequent headaches or any of the above symptoms, mention them to Dr. Blaylock during your visit to his Durham dentist office. Prompt treatment can prevent possible tooth damage.
Mouthguard and Splint Therapy
As a conservative option, your dentist in Durham, NC, will often recommend the use of a bite guard to alleviate TMJ disorder symptoms or a dental splint. A bite guard or splint is often the first step, used early in treatment and not needed as a long-term solution. A dental split can be helpful to help identify a comfortable and stable bite position.
Bite Correction Therapy
This process is a series of adjustments made to the teeth, which may include:
- Removing tooth structure
- Applying dental crowns or porcelain veneers
- Orthodontic treatment
- Implant dentistry
If the teeth are not in the proper position, orthodontics may be needed to reposition the teeth, allowing them to fit together harmoniously. Dr. Blaylock will coordinate your treatment with traditional or invisible braces through a local specialist.
In cases where teeth have been significantly worn and damaged, restorative dentistry may be needed to bring the teeth back to their proper health and beauty. Dr. Blaylock may use dental crowns, porcelain veneers, or cosmetic bonding to restore teeth.
TMJ Treatment FAQs
Is TMJ treatment painful?
No. TMJ treatments are not painful. Some TMJ treatment options may not require surgery or invasive procedures. Even with oral surgery, your oral surgeon or dentist will use anesthesia so you do not feel pain.
How long does TMJ treatment last?
There are many TMJ treatment options. Some may be more of a process than others, depending on the severity of your TMJ issues. For example, you will need to wear night guards indefinitely; whereas bite alignment procedures take a visit or two, with results lasting a lifetime. Your results may vary.
Is TMJ treatment expensive?
TMJ treatment is an umbrella term for a list of procedures that doctors and dentists use to fix jaw issues. Most TMJ treatments are not that expensive and are common treatments, such as crowns or porcelain veneers. We reserve the more expensive treatments for severe TMJ issues. This can include orthodontics and oral surgery.
What is the main cause of TMJ?
Medical professionals do not completely understand the main cause of TMJ disorder. However, dentists, medical doctors, and TMJ specialists believe multiple factors can cause TMJ disorder. TMJ specialists believe that jaw injury, teeth grinding, arthritis, and stress can contribute to TMJ disorder. Additionally, misalignment of the jaw or teeth and conditions that affect the muscles and nerves in the face and jaw can also contribute to TMJ disorder. An evaluation by a dentist or TMJ specialist can help identify the underlying cause of your TMJ disorder and provide appropriate treatment options.
When should I see a doctor about TMJ?
You should consider seeing a doctor about TMJ if you experience persistent symptoms such as jaw pain, tenderness or clicking in the jaw, and difficulty or discomfort when opening or closing the mouth. Ear pain, headaches, and neck pain are also symptoms you should not want to take lightly. These symptoms can be signs of a TMJ disorder. You should also seek medical attention if you have any problems with chewing or biting or if you have a sudden or severe change in your bite. Consult a dentist or doctor with experience in diagnosing and treating TMJ disorders.