TMJ Symptoms

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The many faces of TMJ

TMJ is often called THE GREAT IMPOSTER

tmj-symptoms-chicagoTMJ symptoms can be wide ranging, complex and difficult to understand.  Frequently patients go from doctor to doctor looking for answers to these problems only to be frustrated again and again.  This is why the name  The Great Imposter is so accurate.  Patients are treated for symptoms not underlying causes.

If you experiencing any of the following common symptoms:

  • facial pain and soreness
  • Tension headaches or tmj and/or muscle headaches
  • migraines and other vascular headaches
  • ear pain …otalgia
  • ear ringing
  • sinus pain or pressure
  • ear stuffiness or pressure
  • distorted hearing
  • eye pain
  • pain behind the eye..retro-orbital pain
  • eye sensitivity
  • neck pain
  • back pain
  • tender jaw muscles
  • muscle tightness
  • MPD or Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Sleep Disordrs
  • Morning Headaches
  • muscle pain
  • pain when biting, chewing or yawning
  • difficulties closing and opening the mouth
  • popping or clicking sounds when opening the mouth
  • sensitive teeth
  • excessive tooth wear
  • numbness in the fingers, hands & arms

and you can’t seem  to find a way to resolve them, they could be caused by a dental problem known as Temporomandibular Joint Disorder or Dysfunction (TMD).

TMJ is often ignored by the medical community.

If you’ve sought medical treatment with no results, the next logical step to finding out what is at the root cause of your pain or discomfort is to seek a consultation with a dentist trained in physiologic dentistry.  Dr. Shapira has over 30 years experience in physiologic dentistry and pain treatment.

How could your TMJ be the cause of your unexplained chronic pain?

The Trigeminal Nerve Connection

Often, unresolved chronic pain or discomfort is associated with the temporomandibular (TMJ) joint. You use this important joint to eat, chew, talk or yawn. The successful working of these joints depends on the smooth interaction of ligaments, muscles, bones and discs that make up the TMJ.

The largest input to our brain is the Trigeminal nerve, it is amplified by the reticular activating system which gives it incredible influence on all head and neck pain or disorders. Differential diagnosis of orofacial pains is crucial in treating all TMJ patients.

Computers users are familiar with the phrase “Garbage in…Garbage out”   Our brain is our computer and if it is flooded with painful (Nociceptive) input from the Trigeminal Nerve the Garbage out is perceived as PAIN!

If there is any misalignment in your bite painful or uncomfortable symptoms can result, as:

  • the components of your TMJ encounter friction spots
  • the jaw muscles become overworked sometimes radiating pain to other body parts or
  • the underlying nerves become compressed sending pain signals to your brain.
  • Excessive muscle contraction increases friction in the TMJ’s

 

Balance your jaw and ease your TMJ symptoms

tmj-treatment3If your jaw disorder symptoms are caused by a misaligned bite, you have a good chance of easing or even eliminating them with TMJ dental treatment. A dentist trained in physiologic dentistry can diagnosis TMD to determine an effective course of treatment to realign your bite.

  1. The dentist will first check your medical history to ensure that there is nothing else that could be causing your unexplained symptoms.
  2. The next step is to assess the misalignment of your bite that can cause so many uncomfortable symptoms.  A complete examination includes muslce palpation and takes close to an hour or more
  3. If misalignment is detected, the dentist will measure your jaw function and relax your jaw muscles by massaging them with a TENS machine – an extremely low frequency electrical stimulator, which activates blood flow.  Physiologic Dentistry utilizes sophisticated diagnostics that track jaw movement and function and can evaluate muscle function and muscle symetrr
  4. When the tension in your muscles has been relieved, the best position for your bite will be found. This is then kept in the right place by positioning a non invasive orthotic device over your teeth. If successful, longer term stabilization can be achieved by dental restorations or othodontics.
  5. The first step is the Diagnostic Physiologic Orthotic.  The orthotic is an integral part of the diagnostic process.  It is our trial appliance that determines a three dimensional not stressed position of the mandible.  It is adjusted to reflect changes in posture that occur during treatment.  These changes are the result of healing and take time to occur and stabilize.
  6. Miraculous instant relief and slower relief are difernet versions of that healing process.  There are many factors that affect the pathways of healing.

Once your bite is in a healthier more comfortable position, you should find your pain fading away.  These results with the diagnostic orthotic are used as a blue print for long term treatment.

What is TMJ?

Dr. Shapira Chicago, Deerfield, Evanston, Highland Park, Kenilworth, Lake Bluff, Lake Forest, Libertyville, Lincolnshire, Mettawa, Morton Grove, Northbrook, Northfield, Skokie, TMJ - General, TMJ Dentist, TMJ Doctor, TMJ Pain, TMJ Specialist, TMJ Symptoms, TMJ Treatment, Vernon Hills, Wilmette, Winnetka 10 Comments

What is TMJ? Learn more about it!

what-is-tmj-chicago

Everyone experiences occasional headaches, shoulder pain, or sore neck. Most of the time we can dismiss the cause as nothing more than stress or our busy lives, but, when pain becomes a daily occurrence or is accompanied by other symptoms, there could be something more going on.

If you are suffering from undiagnosed, chronic pain, TMJ may be the reason. But what is TMJ, and why does it cause pain?

How does your TMJ work?

TMJ is an abbreviated term for the temporomandibular joint also known as your jaw joint. Other abbreviations; TMD for Temporomandibular Disorder and TMJD for Temporomandibular Joint Disorder, are also accepted and used interchangeably  to refer to the pain, disorder or dysfunction of this joint and other affected areas surrounding it.

Like all of the wonderfully complex parts of our bodies, the temporomandibular joint is designed for smooth, continuous and pain-free operation. These two essential joints work in unison to allow you to:

  • bite
  • speak
  • chew
  • sing
  • yawn
  • laugh
  • talk

In fact, for your jaw to do everything you need it to, it must be able to open close, move forward and back and from side to side.

The bones of your joints do not work alone. To move, each of your ball and socket jaw joints are cushioned by a disc and surrounded by the muscles, ligaments and nerves that make them work.

What causes jaw problems?

While TMJ causes are not always clear, they are often be related to specific events or life changes, including:

  • uneven dentistry
  • direct injury to the temporomandibular joint
  • ongoing stress resulting in bruxism and clenching of the jaw
  • shifting or missing teeth
  • a misaligned jaw or underdeveloped jaw due to genetics or childhood breathing problems
  • arthritis
  • sleep disorders, especially sleep disordered breathing

Where does the pain come from?

Since the TM joint consists of so many interdependent parts, if even one piece is out of commission, stressed or damaged in some way, the rest of the connecting parts are affected. This includes the part of our nervous system that is responsible for providing input to the brain for as much as 40 percent of the human head and face.

The nerve, specifically called the trigeminal nerve is of great interest to the physiologic dentist evaluating and treating TMJ disorders. As the name implies, there are three branches to this nerve, and they are connected with many of the functions of the TM joint, including:

  • Routine chewing functions of the upper and lower jaw
  • Swallowing
  • Breathing
  • Talking
  • Kissing
  • Eyes
  • Ears
  • Sinuses
  • Teeth

Even though TMJ pain directly communicates through the trigeminal nerve structures, it may also result in referred pain to certain locations in the head and neck.  Almost 100% of all headaches  and migraines, as well as sinus pain are mediated primarily by the trigeminal nerve.  Symptoms of referred pain may include the following symptoms:

  • Frequent morning headaches or migraines
  • Grinding, clicking or popping noise in the TM joints
  • Dizziness
  • Neck, shoulder or back pain
  • Tinnitus

Learn more about TMJ

DentistTMJ is a complex disorder. Effective treatment depends on an accurate diagnosis.

If you would like to find out if TMJ is at the root of your chronic pain, take our TMJ questionnaire or, better yet, come in for a consultation.