The temporomandibular joints, called TMJ, are the joints and jaw muscles that make it possible to open and close your mouth. Any problem that prevents this complex system of muscles, ligaments, discs and bones from working properly may result in a painful TMJ disorder.
A TMJ disorder, left untreated, can potentially have devastating effects on your overall health and well-being. Some patients destroy their teeth due to constant clenching or grinding, while others may suffer from debilitating headaches or sleep apnea.
It is estimated that over half of Americans suffer from a varying degree of a TMJ disorder. Fortunately, it can be treated with neuromuscular dentistry. Rock Family Dental of Little Rock, Arkansas is a leader in treating TMJ and craniofacial pain quickly and successfully. Treatment options include:
- i-CAT – cone beam CT scan that produces high definition 3D diagnostic images for optimum treatment efficiency. Allows focused visualization of the temporomandibular joints and 3D data enhanced views for detection of airway restrictions.
- T-Scan – technology that identifies any imbalance in the bite or how the teeth fit together.
- K7 Evaluation System – measures and records mandibular function and masticatory (chewing) muscle status via jaw tracking, electromyography, and sonography.
- Computerized Range of Motion Measurement System – measures cervical spine movement.
Joint Stabilization and Splinting – careful repositioning of a dislocated, locked or poorly positioned jaw joint into the proper anatomical position with the placement of a splint to hold the jaw in place to allow healing to occur.
TMJ Oral Appliances:
- TMJ Daytime Appliance – facilitates healing, calms overactive muscles, stabilizes the jaw, and achieves neuromuscular reeducation. These mandibular, or lower arch, appliances are easily worn while eating, speaking, singing and playing musical instruments.
- TMJ Nighttime Appliance – repositions the mandible in a forward position while allowing the disc assembly to resume a more normal position in relation to the condyle and fossa. The maxillary, or upper appliance, is generally worn at night as it interferes with eating and can make speaking difficult.
- TMJ/OSA Appliance – reduces airway restriction caused by breathing related disorders by preventing jaw and/or tongue retrusion and maintaining an open airway. TMJ patients have a high propensity for sleep disorders.
TMJ Physical Therapy:
- Low Level Laser Therapy – reduces pain and stimulates healing by reducing inflammation and increasing circulation or blood flow.
- Therapeutic Ultrasound – helps relax tight muscles and provides deep heat to the muscles, joints, ligaments and tendons resulting in increased circulation or blood flow to aid in the process of healing.
- Manual Trigger Point Therapy – application of continual pressure to release the buildup of lactic acid in the muscles thereby alleviating discomfort.
- Microcurrent Stimulation – induces muscle relaxation, reduces pain and decreases muscle spasm.
Trigger Point Injection Therapy – injection of a local anesthetic into trigger points or tender areas to immediately relieve discomfort and break the pain cycle.
Sleep apnea is a serious condition wherein a person experiences abnormal pauses in breathing while asleep, which may last from several seconds to a minute.
Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common type of sleep apnea. It is caused by a blockage in the airway, which can be due to excess tissue in the nasal passages or behind the tongue. About 15 million Americans suffer from this disorder.
Typical symptoms include snoring, choking or gasping for air during sleep, daytime sleepiness and fatigue. What makes the condition so dangerous is that it can cause high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, stroke, heart attack, heart failure, diabetes and depression.
Rock Family Dental offers a convenient sleep test that can be taken in the comfort of your own home to help diagnose obstructive sleep apnea. Once diagnosed, you can be fitted for a custom fabricated oral sleep appliance that is designed to reposition the lower jaw, soft palate and tongue to open the airway. Oral appliances are then adjusted to an optimal position to alleviate snoring and reduce the number of shallow or non-breathing events while sleeping.
*Dental Sleep Medicine is not an ADA recognized specialty.