12607 Jones Road, Houston, Texas 77070
(281) 469-6281
Email Us  •  Contact Us
Ask the Doctor  •  Office Tour

TMJ Treatment in Houston

Temporomandibular (TMJ) Disorders

tmj therapy using night guard 77070Many people who suffer from such seemingly disparate symptoms as headaches, earaches, tenderness of the jaw joints or muscles, or dull aching facial pain often share a common problem. These people may suffer from a family of problems related to the jaw muscles and the jaw joint. These problems are often referred to as TM disorders. The muscles and joints may not function properly, resulting in cycles of pain and spasm. The causes of some TM disorders are not well understood. Because of this, there are varying opinions about diagnosis and treatment of these conditions, some of which are discussed in this brochure.

Causes of TM Disorders

When muscles and joints do not work properly, the muscles will often go into a spasm. This spasm can become part of a cycle that results in tissue damage, pain, muscle tenderness and more spasm.

While some cases of TM disorder may have clear cut causes, such as trauma, arthritis, or severe stress, most are due to a combination of factors. Discs often slip forward in the joint, leading to problems such as clicking, popping or even getting “stuck” for a moment. However, these often are minor problems, and in the absence of jaw pain they usually don’t require treatment.

Oral habits such as clenching or grinding (bruxism) may develop as a response to stress, or as part of a sleep disorder. You may not be aware of nighttime clenching or grinding, but you may catch yourself doing this during the day. These habits can tire the muscles and cause them to go into spasm. The spasm causes pain which in turn causes more spasm. In time, persistent muscles problems may affect the joints themselves, and a complex cycle of pain and improper function will be set up.

It is important to not that while many of the above factors cause TM disorders, the exact causes of the disorders are unknown and sometimes it is not possible to determine the causes of the symptoms.

Signs and Symptoms of TMJ

TMJ has many signs and symptoms.

  1. Pain in or around the ear sometimes spreading to the face.
  2. Tenderness of the jaw muscles.
  3. Clicking or popping noise when one opens or closes the mouth.
  4. Difficulty in opening one’s mouth.
  5. Jaw that get stuck, lock or “go out”
  6. Pain brought on by yawning, chewing or opening the mouth widely.
  7. Certain types of headaches or neckaches.
  8. Teeth are chipping away at the gumline
  9. Teeth are extremely sensitive to cold.

Muscles and Joints of the Jaws

tmj therapy houstonThe structures that make it possible to open and close the mouth are very specialized and work together when you chew, speak and shallow. These structures include muscles and ligaments, as well as the bones and disk which make up the TM joints. The TM joint is one of the most complex in the body.

A number of muscles allow you to open and close your mouth. They also control forward, backward and side to side movements of the lower jaw. Both joints also are involved in these movements. Each of these joints has a disc between the ball and socket. This disc cushions the load while enabling the jaw to open widely and to move in combinations of hinge and gliding movements. Any problem that prevents this complex system of muscles, ligaments, discs and bones from working together properly may result in TM disorder.

Treatment for TM/Bruxism

Treatments for TM and bruxism vary, based on your individual basis.

  1. Trying to eliminate muscles spasm and pain by applying moist heat or prescribing medication such as muscles relaxants, analgesics or anti-inflammatory drugs.
  2. Eliminating some of the harmful effects of clenching or grinding the teeth by wearing a SW (bruxism device)
  3. Teaching relaxation techniques to help control muscle tension in the jaw. Your dentist may suggest training or counseling to help eliminate stress, tooth grinding or clenching.

What is a nightguard?

A nightguard is a mouthpiece custom fitted to your mouth, to help alleviate the symptoms of TMJ or bruxism. It is commonly made of a hard or soft plastic. You should wear it at night.

Will Insurance cover the nightguard?

As always, insurance company give vague details and we will determine your benefits as best as possible. Typically insurance companies don’t give benefits to cover nightguards.

What does it take to make a nightguard?

We will take an impression, at the first appointment and deliver the nightguard at the second appointment. Sometimes it is necessary to have a third appointment for adjustments.

back to library

©2006 Dr. Cher Rich, DDS • Site designed and maintained by TNT DentalSitemap
12607 Jones Road, Houston, TX 77070 USA
Cher L Rich DDS (281) 469-6281 (281) 469-6291 shay@cherrichdds.com