The jaw joint, or temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is one of the most complex in the body. Because of its complexity and role in speech and eating, it is not unusual for it to cause problems. The treatment of TMJ dysfunction is of particular interest to Dr. Trosien, as this was the focus of his research and thesis during his orthodontic residency.
The term TMJ dysfunction encompasses a wide range of problems. Such problems can be related to stress, hormone levels, or the bite of the teeth. In as much as there is a relationship between the jaw joints and the teeth, orthodontic treatment is often indicated to help with problems. An understanding of the anatomy of the joint is important in your understanding our role in treatment.
There are two “bites” the jaw can close into: the best fit of the jaw joints, where the ball is all the way in the socket, and the best fit of the teeth. Usually, these two positions do not match. When the discrepancy between the two exceeds the body’s tolerance to overcome it, TMJ pain or locking occurs.
One of the primary goals of orthodontics is to align the teeth in such a way as to allow them to close into their ideal bite when the jaw joints are in their ideal relationship. This way, there is no discrepancy between the two.
To determine what portion of a person’s TMJ problems are directly attributable to the mismatch between these two bites, we will often use a “bite splint.” This appliance simulates the effect of an orthodontic correction of the teeth; it takes the teeth out of the equation and allows the jaw joints to relax into their normal position.
Some patients are maintained well on a bite splint, and never go on to further treatment. Others continue on with orthodontic treatment to rectify the discrepancy between the two bites. You may need TMJ treatment if you are experiencing any of these signs or symptoms:
Pain and tenderness in the jaw or facial muscles
A stuck or locked jaw
Inability to open your jaw wide
Clicking, popping, or grinding noises when you chew or open your mouth
There are many treatments available for our patients experiencing stressed or damaged TMJs. Our orthodontist, Dr. Trosien, will work together with you to determine the exact cause of the problem and which treatment is ideal for your needs. We can create custom-made dental appliances to treat your condition. If you have facial or jaw pain, please do not hesitate to contact us today. We are dedicated to helping your smile and face feel more comfortable and healthy. We are easily accessible to the communities of Mountain House, Patterson, Livermore, and other surrounding cities. We hope to see you soon!