Do you suffer from chronic jaw pain and headaches? Does your jaw pop or crack?
TMJ/TMD, Temporomandibular Joint, is an acronym referring the jaw joint situated just in front of the ears. Although it technically refers to a location, it has come to include the many maladies associated with TMJ dysfunction.
TMJ is commonly misdiagnosed as frequent, and recurrent ear infections because of it’s intimate location to the inner ear. Stuffiness of the ear, may actually be swelling in the joint capsule itself, much like ‘water on the knee’.
The common occurrence of “popping and clicking” with jaw movements indicates a displacement of the jaw meniscus (disc) that is vital to normal and pain-free jaw movement. One should avoid the extreme movements that aggravate this popping and clicking occurrence when possible.
If you or some one you knows suffers from:
- Frequent headaches, especially in the morning
- Frequent and recurrent ear pain or ‘infections’ that don’t respond to antibiotics
- Popping and clicking of the jaw joints, often painful
- Locking or limited movement of the jaw, open or closed
- An inability to open your mouth far
- Pain when chewing
- Neck and Back pain
- Unexplained tooth, eye, ear, and head pain
All of these are often related to TMJ dysfunction.
What is Happening
The most TMJ problem is associated with displacement of the jaw disc. This is often accompanied with the popping/clicking sound even though it may have stopped years ago!
Today’s fast paced and stressful life style tends to exacerbate TMJ problems. Night time clenching or grinding of one’s teeth places excessive pressure and compression on the TM joints causing swelling, pain, muscle tension headaches, and referred pain to non joint locations in the head and neck.
Because of the many nerves located in the joint area, many neuralgias of the head and neck result in pain in and around this joint area.
The treatment of TMJ is relatively new to the field of dentistry, and many dentists themselves, let alone physicians, are uninitiated in the proper treatment of this condition.
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’, unexplainable head and neck pain, or diagnosed TMJ problems that has not responded to previous treatment.
Many TMJ problems are episodic or recurring until the underlying issues are identified and treated or eliminated.
Splint therapy has been a common starting point, but many patients need final phases of treatment to prevent recurrence or further breakdown of this vital joint. Dr. Reese has alternative treatments such as ETPS, but may still need to work with physical therapists, and chiropractors in addition to using different drug therapies in addition to the use of splints.
Many patients may need orthodontic care, bridgework, or reconstruction of poor occlusion (bite) to permanently retain the results of relief from TMJ pain. This is a vital phase of treatment that many ‘TMJ specialists’ are not trained or competent to offer.
Dr. Reese is a member of the American Academy of Craniofacial Pain and has been practicing dentistry for over 30 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.