Temporomandibular Joint Disorders (TMD/TMJ)
Chronic facial pain — pain in or around the ear, tender jaw, clicking or popping noises when opening the mouth, headaches and neck aches may arise from many easily identifiable and treatable causes, including a sinus infection, tooth decay, or gum disease. But sometimes the source is more elusive, and it may be TMD, a group of often painful disorders affecting the jaw and chewing muscles.
Common causes of TMD include:
Trauma to the head or neck
Oral habits such as clenching or grinding of the teeth
“Bad” bite or missing teeth
Misalignment of the upper and lower jawbones
I wouldn’t dream about going to any other dental practice! Their focus on total body health is truly amazing. I have ground my teeth my whole life, causing a lot of headaches, upper neck and jaw pain, and jaw tightness. I wore a soft upper mouth guard at night for over a decade, but after meeting with Dr. McClatchie, they explained that what I was doing wasn’t actually helping. So they made me a custom occlusal guard, which actually forces my jaw to relax. And within 2 weeks, I had no more morning headaches or jaw pain, which has been truly life changing. Highly recommend!"
Loss of several teeth, or even undue wear, can seriously affect your temporomandibular joint (TMJ), the sophisticated unit that hinges your lower jaw to eat and talk, among other functions. A marvel of muscle, bone, and engineering, the temporomandibular joint is the engine that drives all dental function, yet few people know of its importance. Unusual tooth wear and eventual tooth loss can alter the physics of the TM joint which, in turn, ages your appearance, modifies your speech, affects your ability to chew, and degrades your bite (the relationship between your upper and lower teeth). A symmetrical bite, one where all of your upper teeth mesh and interact correctly with your lower teeth, is critical to good dental health. A healthy bite ensures that jaw pressure is equally distributed across your entire mouth. If pressure is not equally distributed, and one side is carrying more that it should, this can seriously affect your eating ability and appearance.
The temporomandibular joint may not function correctly on one side, causing pain, discomfort, or an altered facial appearance. It can also lead to improper tooth wear and loss. As Dr. Barbara McClatchie is is a student of The Pankey Institute, she will give your TMJ the attention it deserves. Dr. McClatchie will help you bring all your teeth, uppers and lowers, anteriors and posteriors, into a proper and healthy position.
Treatment of your temporomandibular joint disorder may range from conservative dental care to complex surgery. A dental splint (sometimes known as an occlusal guard) is a device that can be used to stabilize loose teeth or protect the teeth from damage in patients with TMJ, snoring, and sleep apnea. Splints can be worn all the time for a designated treatment period, or while sleeping for long-term care of snoring and sleep apnea.
If non-surgical treatment is unsuccessful or if there is joint damage, it may be an indication that surgery could be needed. Surgery can range from the least invasive arthrocentesis (joint aspiration), to a more advanced arthroscopy or open joint surgery.