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TMJ Treatment

A Holistic Approach to Treating TMJ Disorder

Dr. Reese takes on a holistic approach when treating dental problems such as a TMJ disorder. Being a holistic dentist, he practices a minimally invasive approach to dentistry that considers the whole body’s health. This also means that rather than treating a symptom (problem) he also goes to find out the underlying cause and treat it from there. This is very important when diagnosing and treating TMJ disorders.

What is a Holistic Approach to TMJ?

TMJ IndianapolisWhen we say we take a holistic approach in treating a TMJ disorder, we see the body as an entire working system with all its parts (organs) interconnected and functioning as one. When it comes to oral health, the teeth, gums, jaw, muscles, nerves, and throat are treated like an ecosystem of body parts working together to support necessary functions like chewing, speaking, and breathing. Dr. Reese, who practices a holistic approach to treating TMJ disorder, acknowledges this system as much as the parts, knowing that a problem in one can result in a bigger problem with the system eventually. (Read how TMJ disorders can cause digestive problems too.)

Taking A Holistic Approach on TMJ Disorder Treatment

Those who treat a TMJ disorder symptomatically treat it with muscle relaxants, anti-inflammatory medication, or pain relievers. They may also suggest lifestyle changes that include stress reduction or the consumption of soft foods. This wouldn’t treat the underlying problem though, and symptoms - most especially pain - tend to come back. This can be a potential lifelong problem.

The goal needs to be the return of muscles and joints into their proper alignment. (Read what happens when you have a TMJ disorder.)

Indianapolis TMJ Treatment

Dr. Reese has had many years of experience helping patients suffering from TMJ disorder find relief. He can effectively diagnose the cause of your TMJ symptoms, and provide immediate, non-invasive treatment. Dr. Reese treats the underlying causes of TMJ as well as the problematic symptoms. He investigates your bite by asking about your medical history, current state of health, using modern equipment and techniques, and considers all possible factors involved in the development of TMJ Disorder. This approach goes to the root cause of symptoms.

Those suffering from TMJ Disorder are often recommended to wear an appliance to help them correct their bite. Together with this, techniques to manage pain and address other underlying issues like stress and posture are taken up. Anxiety, stress, poor posture or even caffeine consumption can prompt you to grind your teeth and clench your jaw unconsciously. Practicing techniques to help alleviate stress like meditation and exercise very much helps in managing symptoms too.

Dr. Reese will also coordinate with other health specialists to ensure every organ affected by your TMJ disorder is covered and subsequently treated.

Dr. Reese Can Help You with Your TMJ Disorder

If you are diagnosed with TMJ disorder, we can help lessen the symptoms of this debilitating disorder. While many care providers simply treat the symptoms, Dr. Reese and his staff focus on the underlying causes of your pain and discomfort. This unique approach leads to greater patient adherence to treatment and higher success rates.  If you are suffering from head, neck, or jaw pain, please call Dr. Reese’s office at 317-882-0228 and ask for a TMJ consultation. We are located just north of Greenwood, Indiana on US 31 in Indianapolis.

TMJ Specialist in Greenwood, Indiana

One of the most difficult parts of TMJ disorder treatment or any kind of medical treatment is finding a good doctor or dentist. Diagnosing the disorder is difficult given the variety of symptoms it has and how it can correlate with a whole lot of other illnesses.  If you are looking for a TMJ Specialist in Greenwood, Indiana, Dr. Reese can help. With over 25 years of experience under his belt, he can correctly diagnose your symptoms and work with you and coordinate with other specialists on how to best treat your problem. Dr. Reese is an Indianapolis holistic dentist and he coordinates treatment of TMJ disorders with physical therapists and chiropractors. Usually, a dentist is the first health professional to consult. In fact, patients who experience popping, clicking, or pain in the jaw joint will often call their dentist first. To check for TMJ disorder, Dr. Reese will ask about symptoms, take a medical and dental history, and examine the head, neck, face, teeth, and jaw.

 TMJ disorders can be just a nuisance -- or it can be a life-altering problem. It has been shown to be closely linked to posture and digestive problems too. Getting someone to help you should be your priority.

How to Find a TMJ Specialist in Greenwood, Indiana (Or in Your Area)

Research within your area.

When it comes to TMJ disorders, there is no board certification and many primary care doctors may not know who to refer to. If your primary care physician does not know where to send you, do a search on Google for TMJ disorder specialists or the type of doctor you are looking for in the closest big city.

TMJ Specialist in Greenwood, IN
TMJ Specialist in Greenwood, IN

If you live or have recently moved to IndianapolisGreenwoodShelbyvilleMartinsville, or Southport, consider Dr. Reese for a TMJ disorder consult. Dr. Reese has been involved in the treatment and alleviation of painful joint conditions for many years. Because of his experience and training in the reconstruction of smiles and teeth, the proper function and role of healthy joint function and mobility has allowed him to help many patients suffering from years of ‘muscle tension headaches’, unexplained head and neck pain, or diagnosed TMJ problems that has not responded to previous treatment. Usually, Dr. Reese can recommend a treatment plan like  BruxGuard to help efficiently and effectively reduce pain, prevent permanent damage to the teeth, and reduce clenching as much as possible. He also recommends TMJ posture exercises you can do at home to help correct your posture that usually alleviates TMJ disorder symptoms.

Know your needs and what is important to you.

Do you want medical care that helps you make decisions and explains the choices you have in treatments for your TMJ?  Or, a TMJ dentist or doctor who makes the decisions for you without any discussion as to what the different choices were?  Or would you like something in between?

Dr. Reese will always explain what is happening and what your options are. He believes communication is the key for a trusting relationship with his patients. He can recommend various treatment options and let you know its pros and cons – but still lets you decide.

Verify credentials.

Make sure to make an appointment with a dentist who is a member of the American Academy of Craniofacial Pain.

Dr. Reese is a TMJ Specialist in Greenwood, Indiana

Dr. Reese is a member of the American Academy of Craniofacial Pain and has been practicing dentistry for over 25 years. If you are suffering from head, neck, or jaw pain, please call Dr. Reese’s office at 317-882-0228 and ask for a TMJ consultation. We are located just north of Greenwood, Indiana on US 31 in Indianapolis.

Is Your Posture Affecting Your TMJ?

Your posture and bite might be more closely related than you think. If you experience frequent headaches and lower jaw pain, check two things: your posture and consult a TMJ dental specialist like Dr. Reese about the possibility of having Is Your Posture Affecting Your TMJ?temporomandibular jaw disorder (TMJ).

Good Posture Makes For Good Oral Health

Your bite affects your posture. In the same way, your posture can affect your bite and TMJ. It is all connected. An unbalanced jaw joint ultimately influences your spine, your bite, your airway, your muscles and your nerves. A “good - balanced” bite is achieved when the muscles of the face, jaw and neck are allowed to be at their most efficient state – a relaxed and restful state. This is ultimately achieved when one practices correct posture.

"Good posture is important, yet many people don't realize how posture affects their oral health," says Academy of General Dentistry (AGD) spokesperson Ludwig Leibsohn, DDS.

Let us explain how.

Bad Posture Can Cause TMJ Disorder

The temporomandibular joint is considered to be the most important joint in the body having 30-40% of all the body’s nerve impulses run though it. It also supports the head that is estimated to be between 15-30 pounds.

The body functions normally and properly when all of the joints, bones and muscles are properly aligned. This means one needs to practice good posture at all times. When one routinely slouches or is hunched over the computer for long periods of time, one is indirectly teaching the body to hold a bad posture until it becomes the body’s norm – this has a domino effect. When your back hunches, your neck and skull move forward, tilting their weight causing your lower jaw to protrude forward. This causes a bad bite – one of the leading causes of TMJ disorder.

TMJ Disorder Can Aggravate a Bad Posture

When you have poor posture, all the muscles in your body themselves to achieve a state of balance – this includes the position of facial muscles. This can shift your bite and cause TMJ disorder. When left untreated, TMJ disorder can radiate pain from the jaw to the neck down to the shoulders and back, affecting one’s posture even more.

TMJ Treatments Available Caused by Bad Posture

While there are dental appliances that can help realign your bite and alleviate pain caused by TMJ disorder, practicing good posture coupled with TMJ therapy exercises is the best solution.

Practice good posture when sitting and standing so that your body will align properly.

How to Practice Good and Correct Posture

When Standing: Keep your shoulders back and your chest forward, making sure that you lengthen your spine and do not jut your chin forward.

When Sitting: Hold your upper body as you would in the correct standing position, making sure that your buttocks touch the back of your chair and that your weight is distributed evenly on the hips. Your knees should be at or above hip level when sitting. If they are not, use a footstool to elevate them.

Consult Dr. Reese

If symptoms of your TMJ disorder don’t disappear even with practicing good posture and TMJ therapy exercises, consult with Indianapolis dentist Dr. Reese. Dr. Reese is a member of the American Academy of Craniofacial Pain and has been practicing dentistry for over 25 years. If you are suffering from head, neck, or jaw pain, please call Dr. Reese’s office at 317-882-0228 and ask for a TMJ consultation.

TMJ Posture Exercises You Can Do At Home

We have already established how posture affects one’s TMJ and how a bad posture can cause TMJ disorder. It is important for one to practice and maintain the correct and good posture all the time, be it when standing or sitting. The National Institute of Health says, “Less is often best in treating TMJ Disorders”. Explore safe, conservative, reversible and cost-effective options before making permanent changes to your bite. An experienced physical therapist knows that trying to treat head, neck and jaw problems without addressing posture is like letting one drive a car without keys. A bad posture throws everything off alignment and this impacts your jaw, neck and head.  For example, patients with TMJ disorders don’t realize that they have loose joints, bad feet arches, hyperextend their knees or slouch. This is why Dr. Reese, an Indianapolis holistic dentist, coordinates treatment of TMJ disorders with physical therapists and chiropractors.

Exercise and Posture Correction


TMJ recovery is highly dependent on exercise and posture correction. The correct posture must be restored in the jaw, skull, neck and upper back. Even tongue positions and swallowing patterns must be looked at and corrected.  

TMJ Recovery Exercises

These exercises come in stages and should be approved by your dentist or therapist.  They can modify these to fit your situation and need. Do these exercises gently. If doing any of these exercises hurt, stop doing it and report to your dentist.

Stage One Exercises

*usually done every 1-2 hours all day

1. Nodding. Have you seen how soldiers bring up their height whenever their commander shouts “Attention!”? Do this pose, making yourself an inch taller, keeping your head level, back and up. Keep your tongue on the roof of your mouth and your teeth not touching. Keep your head tall as you nod your head up and down rhythmically and gently ten times, (as in nodding "yes") moving your head but not your neck.

2. Re-education of Swallowing.  We swallow every 30-60 seconds. The correct way to swallow: Your tongue goes flat to the roof of the mouth, teeth slightly apart. Practice swallowing this way before and after exercise.

3. Tongue-On-Roof. Place your tongue on the roof of your mouth, at the back of your teeth. Hold this position as you open and close your jaw ten times.

4. Upper Body Relaxation. Clench your fists and shrug your shoulders as you inhale for three seconds (do not clench your teeth). Then relax your shoulders and hands completely as you exhale for five seconds. Do this twice.

Stage Two Exercises

*usually done three times a day

1. Resisted Jaw Opening. Same as tongue-on-roof only with applied resistance (your hand) under your chin.

2. Neck Stretch. Place one hand on top of the opposite shoulder. Hold that shoulder down. Tip your head away from that shoulder gently. Keep your face facing forward as you stretch 5 seconds gently. Repeat for the other side.

3. Neck Stability. Place one hand on the side of your head. Push your head and hand firmly for 3 seconds without moving your head. Relax. Repeat this three times – do it from front to back.

4. Neck Rotation. Turn your head to the side, hold for three seconds. Relax. Repeat on other side. Do this 3 times each per side.

5. Standing Back-Ends. Place one hand on top of the opposite shoulder. Hold that shoulder down. Tip your head away from that shoulder gently. Keep your face facing forward as you stretch 5 seconds, gently! Repeat for the other side.

Stage Three Exercises

*usually done three times a day

1. Jaw Stability. Place one hand on top of the opposite shoulder. Hold that shoulder down. Tip your head away from that shoulder gently. Keep your face facing forward as you stretch 5 seconds, gently! Repeat for the other side.

2. Jaw Stetching. Open your jaw as far as you will go. Place your thumb under your chin and push up – working your jaw to stay open against the push. Push for 3 seconds without letting your jaw close. Relax. Place a finger on your lower teeth and pull down gently, hold for 3 seconds. Relax and repeat process three times.

3. Back Strengthening Exercises. These are important so that your muscles will hold up your back to maintain straight and correct posture.

Don’t worry, this is not as complicated as it reads – these exercises will only take a few minutes each set everyday. You can watch a video on how it is usually done.

Consult with a TMJ Specialist

Do not underestimate the impact on TMJ disorder on your health. It can literally bring you pain, from head to foot. Dr. Reese offers a lot of TMJ treatment options, all of which are integrated to your holistic health.  If you are suffering from head, neck, or jaw pain, please call Dr. Reese’s office at 317-882-0228 and ask for a TMJ consultation. We are located just north of Greenwood, Indiana on US 31 in Indianapolis.

TMJ and Digestion Problems – Is There a Link?

Temporamandibular (TMJ) disorders are a group of conditions that cause pain in and around the jaw joint (the temporomandibular joint) and its nearby muscles. They affect a person’s ability to eat, chew, swallow, make facial expressions, speak and even breathe. Research says approximately 35 million people suffer from TMJ disorders in the US.

What is the Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ)?

Indianapolis TMJ Dentist
Indianapolis TMJ Dentist

Connecting the lower jaw to the temporal bone in the skull, the TMJ is a hinge joint made up of muscles, blood vessels, nerves and bones. Your TMJ is the most important joint in your body because an estimated 30-40% of all of your body’s nerve impulses run indirectly or directly through the TMJ. Any disorder affecting this joint will affect your whole body, from head to foot.

What Causes TMJ Disorders?

As of the moment, not all causes are known. There have been conditions identified that are somehow indicative of TMJ disorders: injuries to the jaw area, arthritis, infections and auto-immune diseases.

What are Signs that I Have a TMJ Disorder?

Symptoms vary but pain is the most common symptom. Pain associated with TMJ disorders is often described as a dull ache anywhere from the jaw, ears, neck, head, shoulders and back. Dizziness and vision problems are often encountered. Since symptoms are common, diagnosing might take a while. This is why most people suffering from TMJ disorders have chronic pain.

TMJ and Other Problems in the Body

Jaw disorders create health problems that don’t appear connected in the body. Since the TMJ is a very large nerve joint, you can imagine how large its influence is on the motor aspect of your nervous system.  Imagine your head weighs as much as a bowling ball. If you hold a bowling bowl in a starting position when you are playing bowling, you can only sustain that position for a while until your shoulders and arms become sore or irritated. Hold that position for a while longer and you will notice your back, hips and thighs start to hurt too. This is how TMJ disorders work – it affects the whole body.

TMJ and the Digestive Problems

TMJ disorders are most often rooted to a bad bite. If you can’t bite properly, the first step of digestion, mastication, is affected. This is why TMJ disorders are connected to digestive problems too, though the exact correlation remains unclear.

“Temporomandibular Disorder (Jaw Joint Disorder) is associated with 112% more digestive complaints on average (in terms of the cost of medical treatment) as compared to a normal group. “

Source: Hill L, An Introduction to Mastication Analysis in General Practice, Oral Health, March 2013, Vol 103, No 3, pg 20-26. Hans Skariah, B.Sc., DMD

A Holistic View of TMJ

According to holistic experts, TMJ disorders disrupt the flow of energy in the body. When the flow of energy though the jaw is blocked because of stress or tension, all systems that flow through the jaw are affected as well. There are channels called meridians where energy flows. TMJ disorders affect six main energy meridians as they travel near or through the jaw. These meridians are the stomach, small intestine, adrenal gland, gall bladder, large intestine and bladder. As you can see, these meridians relate to digestive functions. You might notice that when you are stressed, you have trouble digesting food properly. One of the reasons is because your jaw is tensed or locked due to tension and stress.

TMJ Therapy and Treatment Options

Correcting TMJ disorders can correct a variety of system (nervous, digestive, immune, pulmonary) disorders as well.

Treatments of TMJ disorders are often short-term. According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research of the National Institutes  of Health, TMJ treatments should be reversible whenever possible. That means that the treatment should not cause permanent changes to the jaw or teeth. Pain medications, jaw exercises and stabilization splints are the most widely used treatments.

Patients can also opt to correct their bite to offer long-term solution to chronic pain associated with TMJ disorders. Make sure to make an appointment with a dentist who is a member of the American Academy of Craniofacial Pain.  If you live in the Indianapolis area, you can call Dr. Ted Reese, an accredited dentist practicing dentistry for over 25 years, at 317-882-0228.