Dental Arts of Hedgesville TMD Treatment: A cosmetic smile transformation that supports long term patient comfort, joint health, and dental health

Our TMJ (temporomandibular joint), TMD (temporomandibular disorder), and MPDS (myofascial pain dysfunction disorder) treatment are different because we utilize digital precision at every step in the process to ensure that we leave as little to chance as possible.  We work with you to create the smile of your dreams – shade, color, shape, size.  If you have a particular celebrity with teeth you adore, bring us a picture, and we will talk with you about how we can re-create those beautiful qualities in your smile.  The technology we use (described below) are tools that are used to predictably position the jaw to a location that supports joint health and healing and maximizes the esthetic outcome.


What is TMJ Disorder?

girl lying in bed with jaw pain

The temporomandibular joint disorder involves a dysfunctional relationship between the lower jaw and the rest of the skull.  The temporomandibular joint is what connects the lower jaw to the rest of the skull and is cushioned in the joint by a small disc.  It is located just in front of your ear.  The jaw joint is very complex and goes through more wear and tear than nearly any other joint in the human body – it is used to talk, shout, sing, yawn, chew, and swallow.  The complexity of the joint, along with the pressure caused by eating and chewing makes it very susceptible to dysfunction and damage.

When the lower jaw, the disc, and the muscles move in ways for which they weren’t designed, a myriad of symptoms and damage to the joint can result.  TMJ disorder and pain is very common.  It can be caused by something as simple as opening your mouth too wide, too quickly, or by clenching and grinding of the teeth.  Many factors can increase the chance a patient will develop TMJ disorder.  The most common is when changes are made to the position of the back teeth.  These changes can be caused by a variety of things.  Some studies estimate that as many as one in four Americans suffers from the downstream effects of TMJ disorder.  The symptoms can be wide-ranging and seemingly unrelated.  If you think you may have symptoms of TMJ disorder, you should call Dental Arts of Hedgesville for a consultation to assess the causes.

What causes TMJ Disorder?

TMJ disorder can be caused by anything that causes the muscles, upper jaw, lower jaw, and teeth to lose a proper orientation with one another. Many factors can contribute, including:

  • Sleep apnea
  • Missing back teeth
  • Overbite
  • Poor posture
  • Grinding and clenching of teeth
  • Arthritis
  • Stress
  • Systemic disease
  • Medications

A lack of proper orientation causes increased muscle tension, putting excess stress on the delicate temporomandibular joint, compressing nerves, deteriorating the joint, and causing pain which can lead to further downstream problems.

Symptoms of TMJ Disorder

The symptoms of TMJ Disorder can be wide-ranging and seemingly unrelated.  They typically fall most heavily among the teeth and gums, face and jaw, eyes, ears, throat, neck, and shoulders.  Common symptoms include:

  • Headaches, including migraines
  • Neck or throat pain
  • Shoulder and back pain
  • Jaw fatigue
  • Clicking, popping, and grinding sounds when opening and closing your mouth
  • Facial pain
  • Earaches, ear congestion, or ear ringing (tinnitus)
  • Pain when chewing
  • Limited ability to open your mouth
  • Snoring or apnea during sleep
  • Eye pain
  • Tooth fracture
  • Locking jaw (open or closed)

  However, the symptoms can have further downstream effects due to postural issues that can arise as a result of the primary symptoms. Dr. Smith and Dr. Barney are dedicated to finding and correcting the dental problems that cause these symptoms.

Can TMJ Disorder Cause Sleep Apnea?

Many people don’t realize the relationship between Obstructive Sleep Apnea and TMJ Disorder.  Studies show that these two problems, most often, go hand-in-hand.  When the jaw is in a position that compresses the joint, we call that a “retruded” position, meaning that the joint is positioned too far toward the back of the skull.  When the jaw is in the position, the soft tissue between the lower jaw and the back of the throat is compressed far toward the back of the throat, constricting the space that air flows when breathing.  It is this constriction that contributes to OSA, or obstructive sleep apnea.  We tailor our treatment to help serve both the OSA and TMJ disorder through the fabrication of daytime and nighttime appliances.  Our patients most often see improvement in their OSA symptoms during their TMJ treatment.

What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?woman unable to sleep because the man is snoring

Obstructive sleep apnea is a life-threatening medical condition in which an individual stops breathing during sleep.  As many as ten million Americans have the condition, but it often goes undiagnosed.  Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the airway closes during sleep and can be caused by a variety of factors including:

  • A retruded jaw position
  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Nasal inflammation or congestion
  • Alcohol and sedative use

Symptoms of Sleep Apnea

Common symptoms of sleep apnea include:

  • Snoring
  • Awaking with a gasp
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • TMD disorder
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Foggy memory
  • Headaches
  • Irritability
  • Poor sleep quality
  • Decreased sex drive and impotence

OUR TECHNOLOGY:

Computerized Jaw Tracking

Computerized Jaw Tracking equipment tracks jaw movements and the relationship of the lower jaw to the upper jaw.  It can reveal signs of an inharmonious relationship between the muscles, the joint disc, the lower jaw, and the upper jaw.  Our computerized jaw tracking is noninvasive and utilizes headgear with a sensor array and a magnet that is placed on the lower jaw, on the gums below the front teeth.  The computer then tracks the movement of the magnet in relation to the sensor array in three dimensions.

Electromyography

We utilize Electromyography (EMG) technology to detect tension levels in muscles of the face and neck using sensors placed on the skin.  These tension levels often serve as the foundation and baseline for our treatment outcomes.  Elimination of a patient's symptoms will generally come along with a decrease in resting muscle activity in the problem areas once the lower jaw is appropriately oriented to the head and neck through the use of, initially, a diagnostic orthotic and eventually a permanent dental prosthesis.

TMJ Orthotics

We utilize removable (phase I) orthotics and permanent (phase II) orthotics in the course of complete treatment.

Our phase I orthotics are a removable stent that snaps on top of your existing lower teeth and provides a new resting point for your upper teeth.  Both a daytime appliance and a night time appliance are provided.  They are made to be worn all the time and function just like natural teeth, once adjusted.  They are made using muscle measurements that place your teeth in a position where the joint remains uncompressed during normal activity, and where muscle activity is most efficient (lowest at rest and highest during activities like chewing.)  They place the joint in a position that will not lead to further joint degeneration and increasing pain over time.  Most of our patients see the resolution of many or all of their current symptoms through the use of the phase I orthotic, with increased improvement over time as the joint heals.

Once we see evidence of a healed and stabilized joint, a permanent, phase II orthotic is fabricated, that maximizes esthetics and permanently modifies the patient’s natural teeth to support the jaw in its new position.

The result of phase II treatment is long-term joint stability and comfort as well as a cosmetic smile transformation.

ULF-TENS: Finding the right jaw position

We utilize ULF-TENS (ultra low frequency transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) technology to stimulate and relax the muscles of your head and neck through slow, mild electrical impulses.  The electrical impulses are kept low enough to not cause discomfort.  However, you will feel your muscles activated intermittently.  Following a 60 minute tensing session, your head and neck muscles will be in a state of relaxation.  It is in this relaxed position that we capture your new resting jaw position – the ideal position for muscle and joint harmony.

BioPak Evaluation Electromyography System

In order to confirm that we are positioning the jaw in the appropriate location, we utilize the Bioresearch, Biopak evaluation system, which measures muscle activity and allows us to positively document, replicate, and position the new jaw and teeth relationship using our phase I orthotic.

3D CBCT Evaluation

We utilize 3D cone beam computed tomography technology to aid in and confirm a proper jaw joint position in our TMD cases.  3D CBCT allows us to visualize the joint and see the healing as it occurs.


Schedule a Consultation Today!

To learn more about our TMD/TMJ Treatments or any of our other Cosmetic Treatments, contact our office today to schedule a consultation. Dental Arts of Hedgesville is proud to serve Hedgesville, WV and the surrounding areas.

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