The National Institute of Health’s Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that TMJ Disorders are the second most commonly occurring musculoskeletal conditions resulting in pain and disability (after chronic low back pain).
Dr. Joseph Cavallo has completed specialized, post-graduate training in the area of TMJ Disorders. He can offer you a personalized treatment plan to alleviate the symptoms of TMJ dysfunction and restore harmony to your bite.
About TMJ Disorders
The Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) is the joint that connects the upper and lower jaw. It is responsible for the opening and closing of the mouth. TMJ disorder is a catch all term for a wide variety of potential issues affecting the jaw joint, muscles in the face, neck, and surrounding nerves.
TMJ Disorder often stem from an imbalanced bite or a lack of harmony in the way your teeth come together. It can be a result of stress, teeth clenching, an accident or other trauma, arthritis, disk damage or even poorly balanced dental work.
Common Causes of TMJ Disorder
There is no single cause for TMJ dysfunction. Any number of factors or combination of factors may be to blame including:
Trauma to the head, neck, or face
Trauma to the TMJ joint or arthritis
Hormonal changes or imbalances
Malocclusion (where the jaws do not line up correctly resulting in bite problems)
As with the causes, symptoms of TMJ disorder vary greatly between patients. TMJ symptoms often mask themselves or are similar to those of other medical conditions, making diagnosis extremely difficult.
Common symptoms of TMJ disorder include:
Shoulder, neck, facial pain
Clicking or popping when opening or closing jaw
Locked jaw or limited mobility in the jaw joint
Teeth clenching, teeth grinding, often accompanied by tooth wear
TMJ Treatment What to Expect
Dr. Cavallo’s goal is to treat TMJ by gently and naturally bringing the head, neck, jaw and bite into proper alignment. He will start with a comprehensive evaluation to look for the signs and symptoms of TMJ dysfunction.
Dr. Cavallo starts by obtaining a detailed history of your symptoms. He will then do a clinical examination that begins with examining the muscles that control the movement of your lower jaw. He also uses a Doppler auscultation instrument to evaluate the popping or clicking sounds coming from your temporomandibular joint. He will conduct a load test of the joint to look for any tension or tenderness and a range of motion exam is done to determine joint mobility. If needed, an MRI or additional x-rays of the joint may be taken.
Occlusal analysis is the next step in diagnosing and treating your TMD pain. It is a method of recording your biting/chewing motion on a device called an articulator, which mimics your actual jaw movements.
During this analysis Dr. Cavallo measures:
the relationship between the upper arch of teeth and the jaw joints (TMJ)
how the upper and lower jaw and teeth meet with bite registration wax
TMJ Mouth Guard: A TMJ mouth guard is a removable oral appliance that helps to keep the teeth and jaw in proper position. Usually worn during sleep, and oral appliance may also prevent teeth grinding or clenching which can lead to tooth wear and contribute to tooth decay and gum disease. TMJ treatment through splints, mouth guards and night guards can help to alleviate the most common symptoms of TMJ dysfunction and prevent damage to the teeth and gums.
Bite Correction Procedures: Occlusal equilibration, better known as bite correction or TMJ correction, is the process of adjusting the alignment of the teeth for optimal fit. The teeth should line up so that they make even contact with one another, creating a low-stress bite.
Over 95% of TMJ dysfunction (TMD) and TMJ pain are caused by an improper occlusion. Bite correction can help to alleviate the symptoms of TMD such as sore jaw, headaches, teeth clenching, and more.