TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorders occur due to problems with the jaw, jaw joint (or TMJ), and surrounding facial muscles. TMJ disorders can cause pain in your jaw joint and the muscles that control jaw movement.
At Advanced Dentistry of Kearney, Dr. Reece has extensive experience diagnosing and treating TMJ disorders.
Causes of TMJ Disorders
It is often challenging to determine TMJ disorders’ exact cause, as your pain may be due to a combination of factors, such as genetics, arthritis, or jaw injury. Furthermore, jaw pain may be associated with clenching or grinding your teeth (bruxism), whether you have a TMJ disorder or not.
Painful TMJ disorders can, however, occur when the small shock-absorbing disk, which normally keeps jaw movement smooth, begins to erode or moves out of its proper alignment. The joint can also be damaged by arthritis or damaged by a blow or other impact.
Signs and Symptoms of TMJ Disorders
If you do have a TMJ disorder, typical symptoms include:
- Pain or tenderness of your jaw
- Pain in one or both of the temporomandibular joints
- Aching pain in and around your ear
- Difficulty chewing or pain while chewing
- Aching facial pain
- Locking of the joint, making it difficult to open or close your mouth
Consultation for TMJ Disorders
During your consultation, Dr. Reece will ask you about your medical history and examine your jaw. She will
- Listen to and feel your jaw when you open and close your mouth.
- Observe the range of motion in your jaw.
- Press on areas around your jaw to identify sites of pain or discomfort.
If Dr. Reece suspects a problem, she will
- Order a 3D Cone-Beam CT to provide images of the teeth, jaw, and bones involved in the joint.
- Order an MRI to reveal a problem with the joint’s disk or surrounding soft tissue.
Fortunately, the pain and discomfort associated with TMJ disorders are temporary and can be alleviated with self-managed care and non-surgical treatments. If conservative measures fail, however, surgical treatments are available.
At Advanced Dentistry of Kearney, Dr. Reece offers patients conservative TMJ treatment.
Splint Therapy. Dr. Reece can fabricate an occlusal mouth guard, bite plate, or another type of oral apparatus to help resolve TMJ pain and discomfort. Splints can be either hard or soft and cover a few teeth or all of them.
There are two types of splints:
Stabilization Splints. These splints cover all of the teeth and are typically just worn at night. The splints allow jaw muscles and ligaments to relax, and when worn prevent the occurrence of teeth grinding, clenching, or other jaw reactions that may trigger TMJ pain and discomfort. These splints can also prevent other negative side effects of bruxism, such as teeth becoming worn down or cracked.
Repositioning Splints. These splints are prescribed to wear all day, every day, and are designed to correct bite occlusions. If you have an overbite or underbite, these conditions may put added pressure on the jaw and cause TMJ pain and discomfort. The splints can help angle your bite into a more optimal position, which can alleviate the tension in the jaw.
For some patients, splint therapy permanently resolves symptoms of TMJ disorders. For others, additional TMJ treatment may be required that may include dental work to make their ideal bite permanent.
Dental Work. Dr. Reece may recommend that you have dental work to balance the biting surfaces of your teeth or to correct a bite problem. This may involve restorative dental work, including crowns and bridges. Dr. Reece will discuss options with you during your consultation.
If you suspect you are experiencing symptoms of a TMJ disorder, call Advanced Dentistry of Kearney at (308) 237-1311 to schedule a consult with Dr. Reece. She will conduct a thorough examination to confirm the diagnosis and recommend a treatment plan.
Teeth Whitening and Bleaching FAQs
OTC whitening kits that bear the ADA’s Seal of Acceptance indicate that they are both safe and effective for whitening when used as directed. While they do produce some results, they are not as long-lasting and they take significantly longer than do at-home or in-office approaches.
Dentists offer both at-home and in-office options for teeth whitening and bleaching. Both options are dentist-supervised--whitening products supplied by dentists for use at home or applied by dentists in the office. In-office whitening and bleaching procedures are generally faster and more effective than at-home ones since the bleaching agent used (hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide) has greater concentration levels.
Teeth whitening and bleaching may be right for you if you have:
- Generalized stains on your teeth
- Aging teeth
- Smoking and dietary stains on your teeth from tea and coffee
- Dental fluorosis (having multiple spots on your teeth from fluoride)
- Tetracycline staining (improves but doesn’t correct it totally)
- Changes to the inside of your tooth (e.g. death of the nerve or root canal treatment)
Note that whitening and bleaching do not work well on all teeth, especially those that have brown or gray stains. For these patients, veneers or crowns may be a better option.
Teeth whitening and bleaching is not for everyone, especially if you
- Have decay in your mouth, gum disease, or infection underneath your teeth
- Are pregnant or breastfeeding
- Have a peroxide allergy
- Have tooth sensitivity
- Have cracked and exposed dentine (once treated, these teeth can be whitened or bleached)
- Have caps, veneers, crowns, or fillings (teeth whitening does not usually change the color of fillings and other restorative materials)
- Have discoloration from medications or a tooth injury
- Have a receding gum line
Some patients experience side effects after teeth whitening and bleaching treatments. The biggest risks are tooth sensitivity and gum irritation. These effects are usually temporary, not lasting more than 1 or 2 days after treatment. Using toothpaste for sensitive teeth will help to take away some of the “tingling” feelings in your teeth.
In-office (chairside) teeth whitening usually keeps your smile white for about a year. Teeth whitening with take-home products from your dentist usually lasts for several months. Most people find they need a touch-up every 4 to 6 months.