Treating Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction

When you’re in pain, it can be difficult to focus on anything else. The primary goal becomes alleviating that pain in any way possible. But what do you do when nothing you try seems to help? Worse yet, what happens when doctor after doctor can’t pinpoint the source of your pain, and thus you cannot get an accurate diagnosis? Are you tired of paying for doctor visits that go nowhere? Are you sick or wary of taking prescription medications that either don’t work or simply mask the problem? Do your mystery symptoms cause neck, head and back pain? Is your jaw tight, does it click or pop, or do you experience constant unexplained ringing in your ears? You could be suffering from temporomandibular joint dysfunction, or TMJ dysfunction for short.

But how do you know if you have TMJ dysfunction or just a headache? Here are some key pointers to help you determine whether that pain you’re feeling could be from temporomandibular joint dysfunction or something else.

What Is TMJ Dysfunction?

TMJ dysfunction occurs in the temporomandibular joint of the jaw - where the temporomandibular joint in the lower jaw connects to the temporal bone on the skull – becomes misaligned, either from genetic disposition or injury. It can be caused by everything from an accidental injury to the jaw to bruxism, or tooth grinding.

How Is It Diagnosed?

TMJ dysfunction is diagnosed using several techniques, including an electromyography evaluation, which measures the activity of the jaw muscles when opening and closing the mouth; sonography to measure joint derangement and vibrations; and jaw tracking, which takes 3D measurements of the mandibles. Once you are diagnosed with TMJ dysfunction, the treatment can be determined.

Is There a Cure for TMJ Dysfunction?

Once they are diagnosed, the first thing most people want to know about TMJ dysfunction is if there is a cure or a quick fix. Unfortunately, the answer is no. While patients can get some relief from something called a TENS machine, which can relieve pain and spasms, neuromuscular dentistry is the best option for treating temporomandibular joint dysfunction.

What Is Neuromuscular Dentistry?

Neuromuscular dentistry uses the measurements taken by Dr. Mingus to determine the severity of the patient’s TMJ dysfunction, and helps him formulate a treatment plan for each individual patient. That treatment may include TENS therapy, custom orthotics and other types of neuromuscular treatments. These treatments are done with the purpose of realigning the bite to a proper and more comfortable position, eliminating the pain naturally. This means no more mystery doctor visits and no more pharmaceuticals that at best only temporarily mask the pain.

To be evaluated for TMJ dysfunction and to learn more about neuromuscular dentistry options, please contact Dr. Mingus at 541-382-6565.