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TMJ Therapy

Cristi Y. Cheek, DMD & Kristina E. Chandler, DMD

TMD, Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction Syndrome (also called TMJ,) is a common condition affecting a wide variety of people. TMJ may be characterized by severe headaches, jaw pain of varying degrees, jaw "popping" or "locking," grinding teeth, worn or loose teeth, gum recession, and/or an intermittent ringing in the ears. The vast majority of TMJ sufferers are unaware that the root cause of these problems is something that a dentist can effectively treat. Cheek Dental has served the Marietta and Roswell area for over 14 years. Dr. Cristi Cheek, trained at the Dawson Academy, helps patients suffering from TMJ with ongoing dental treatment plans.

The symptoms of TMJ are debilitating and can greatly interfere with everyday life. The comfort and general well-being of the patient is at the heart of our dental practice, so pain relief is the first consideration of Dr. Cheek. Dr. Cheek is able to test, diagnose, and devise an immediate plan to treat the underlying causes of the TMJ disorder.

Reasons for treating TMJ                                   Dr. Cheek's published article on TMJ

TMJ sufferers report that their symptoms generally worsen during periods of prolonged or unexpected stress, and that intense outbreaks of the condition can lead to neck pain and dizziness. 

Sometimes the jaw joint can become damaged due to trauma such as a blow to the jaw. This can lead to a pop or click that can result in pain in the joint and spasming of the muscles. But there are other causes of TMJ...

One cause of TMJ is the misalignment of the teeth, often called “bad bite.” In those cases, it is possible for Dr. Cheek or Dr. Chandler to realign or adjust the teeth without the need for painful or expensive surgeries. For TMJ symptoms caused by a bad bite, the realignment/adjustment can help stop the pounding headaches, the jaw pain, and the dizziness.

Another cause of TMJ can be sleep disordered breathing or sleep apnea.  When the airway is constricted, clenching the teeth and shifting the jaw forward can help open the airway to allow for better breathing.  Unfortunately, this clenching and shifting can damage the teeth.  Patients with sleep disordered breathing may wake frequently, have morning headaches, anxiety, acid reflux, daytime tiredness, and muscle aches. If sleep disordered breathing is suspected, Drs. Cheek and Chandler will recommend a sleep study to see if a mandibular advancement device (a mouthguard that helps hold the lower jaw forward) will help the condition.

Grinding of the teeth (bruxism) whether due to a bad bite or to sleep disordered breathing will eventually erode the structure of the teeth and lead to much more severe dental problems in the future. Grinding or clenching of teeth is one of the most common causes of cracked teeth which then may require crowns and/or root canal treatments. Untreated TMJ is also one of the prime underlying factors in eroded jawbones and loose teeth.

It is important for anyone experiencing the symptoms of TMJ to visit a dentist for an exact diagnosis. Contact Cheek Dental here in Marietta, GA to schedule an appointment.

What does treating TMJ involve?       Watch Video regarding night guards

TMJ could be a result of several different problems.  Initially, Dr. Cheek or Dr. Chandler will thoroughly examine the jaw area, your bite, take x-rays, and review your history in order to make an accurate diagnosis and recommend necessary treatment.

Once a firm diagnosis is attained, there are several ways in which relief can be provided. A specially molded bite guard can be created to stop teeth grinding during the night and place the jaw in a more relaxed position or in a more forward position if it is determined that you have sleep apnea. A bite relationship analysis may first be recommended. Drs. Cheek and Chandler can also provide advice on relaxation techniques which will lessen the effects of stress and muscle spasming. As a last alternative, muscle relaxants may be prescribed, and sometime referral to a specialist may be necessary.

Another treatment used when TMJ is related to a bad bite is to change the shape of the teeth and correct the bad bite, often called “realignment.” This is especially useful because it alleviates TMJ symptoms and may improve the aesthetic appearance of the teeth as well. Realignment involves adjusting the relationship between how the upper teeth come together with the lower teeth. This may require new restorations and/or adjusting the natural teeth as well. It is not a painful procedure, and it is one Dr. Cheek has performed with great success numerous times. As with any procedure, Dr. Cheek and Dr. Chandler will be happy to answer questions and discuss symptoms, options, and treatments.

If you are experiencing any symptoms of TMJ or sleep disordered breathing we encourage you to contact our office today to schedule an appointment. We are conveniently located in the Marietta and Roswell area.