Benton & Nelson DDS

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): TMJ Treatment

How can we help you?

You can find answers to some common questions below. Feel free to call us at (336) 760-1277 if you have a question that isn't listed here!

TMJ Treatment

Dr. Nelson may recommend an occlusal guard if he is noticing signs of grinding, tooth wear, or TMJ pain.  A custom-made occlusal guard at our office is $554.  To learn more about occlusal guards and TMJ, visit our service page.  

There are multiple causes, and stress makes it worse. Multiple causes of TMJ pain can be present. In short, it can be caused by problems with your joint, your bone or your muscles. Stress often exacerbates TMJ symptoms.  

Please visit our page on TMJ pain to learn more! 

Jaw pain or TMD (Temporomandibular disorder) can be caused by issues with the jaw bone, disc, or muscles.

Bone-Related TMD

The temporal bone (the socket part) and the mandible (the ball part) can develop degenerative diseases that are very similar to other joints in the body such as the knee.

  • Osteoarthritis: This is a degenerative condition caused by use and wear over time. The cartilage which separates the two bones wears away and causes the bones to rub together. This creates inflammation, pain, damage to the bones, and loss of motion.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis: The outcomes are similar to osteoarthritis, but instead of wear causing the damage, the joint is attacked by your own body's immune system.
  • Post-traumatic osteoarthritis: This can happen rapidly or slowly following a traumatic injury to the lower jaw.

Disc-Related TMD

A normal TMJ joint has a disc of cartilage that separates the two bones of the joint and allows the bones to slide easily against each other. However, the disc can become dislodged, inflamed, or stuck in place.

  • Signs and symptoms of disc-related issues include popping, clicking, lockjaw, and pain when opening and closing your jaw.

Muscle-Related TMD

Each side of your face has 4 main muscles that work together to open and close your jaw. They are the temporalis, masseter, lateral pterygoid and medial pterygoid.

  • These muscles can become inflamed, injured, or damaged. 
  • Muscle pain is often mistaken for pain in the TMJ itself. It is important to properly diagnose the issue to determine the proper treatment.
  • If you have muscle inflammation or damage, opening or closing your mouth can become difficult or painful.
  • Muscle issues can also be mistaken for headaches, especially if the headaches are most severe in the mornings.

TMD

TMD stands for Temporomandibular Disorder. This term encompasses all of the possible issues that can arise with the structures of these joints. These issues fall into three main categories: bone disorders, disc disorders, and muscle disorders. You may have a combination of issues with multiple parts at the same time. 

TMJ

The TMJ is the actual joint that connects your skull (temporal bone) to your lower jawbone (mandible). You have two TMJs on either side of your head located just in front of your ear canal. If you place your fingers next to your ear and open and close your jaw you can feel the joint rotating and occasionally popping. 

 

Are you having a TMJ-related dental emergency? 

We are passionate about helping. Please don’t hesitate to call (336) 760-1277 to schedule an appointment today.

We will see emergency patients who are new to our office. 

We understand how uncomfortable and life-altering TMJ pain can be. Dr. Benton and Dr. Nelson are committed to helping all patients in the Winston-Salem and Piedmont Triad area. We will see all emergencies, even if you are not patients of record at our office. 

We are happy to schedule a same-day emergency TMJ evaluations. 

We will do our best to rearrange our schedule so you can be seen on the same day that you call.

Occlusal splint (night guard)

The most common treatment to begin with is an occlusal splint. This is a special type of night guard that you wear while sleeping. There are many different types and styles of splints that are designed for different causes of your pain. Once your doctor determines the appropriate type of splint for your issue, then they will take molds of your teeth so our local Winston-Salem dental lab can fabricate a custom splint.

Physical therapy

Many times physical therapy can help alleviate symptoms of TMD. Physical therapy can include stretching, exercise, and massages for the joint.

Occlusal Equilibration (Bite Adjustment)

Sometimes TMD symptoms are exacerbated by your teeth not fitting together appropriately. The doctor can make tiny, precise adjustments to your bite, known as an occlusal equilibration, which can help alleviate symptoms. 

Palliative Care (Preventive or Protective Care)

The doctor will discuss your history of symptoms and determine the best palliative or preventive care regimen for you. This can include stretching exercises, prescription medications (pain relievers, anti-inflammatory, or muscle relaxing medications), and avoidance of certain jaw movements. 

Call us at (336) 760-1277 to schedule your next appointment.
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