TMJ: Neuromuscular Dentistry
in McLean, VA
Neuromuscular Dentist in McLean, VA serving Northern Virginia, including Arlington, Tysons Corner, Alexandria, Fairfax
Headaches, particularly migraines, can be debilitating. Neuromuscular dentists Dr. Chong Lee and Dr. Joseph Oh earned their rating as best dentists in Northern Virginia by offering exceptional care in treating temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD). TMD is a known cause of headaches and is often misdiagnosed as a migraine. As a patient of Galleria Dental Aesthetics, you can be confident that this Las Vegas Institute for Advanced Dental Studies (LVI) trained cosmetic and neuromuscular dentists offer you the highest quality care possible.
WHAT IS NEUROMUSCULAR DENTISTRY?
Neuromuscular dentistry is the science of dealing with disorders in the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). The TMJ is the joint in which your upper temporal bone connects with the mandible, or “jaw bone.” The flexible, elastic, “articulate disk,” floats between the temporal bone and the lower jaw. It acts as a cushion to promote optimal jaw joint function, for instance, the up-and-down and side-to-side movement of the jaw.
TMJ disorders can cause a variety of painful symptoms including headaches, neck pains, and uneven posture. If you believe you are experiencing symptoms that signal TMJ, the condition must be diagnosed by an experienced neuromuscular dentist. Your symptoms could be caused by something else, and it’s important to identify the cause in order to effectively treat the pain.
WHAT IS TMD/TMJ?
TMD or TMJ is a chronic degenerative disease that may take years to develop. People who suffer from TMD have a structural imbalance in their jaw-to-skull relationship, caused by an uncomfortable bite. When your teeth do not match up correctly, over time, your TMJ will weaken and wear. The result is often painful and can interfere with such basic functions as eating, speaking, and even yawning.
TMD can easily go undetected for a number of years and because of the pain associated with this disorder, your life can be affected in a number of ways. That is why learning how our cosmetic dentists cure TMD/TMJ can be relieving.
Signs and Symptoms of TMJ Disorders
The more common symptoms of TMJ disorders include migraine-type headaches, neck tension, shoulder tension, popping or clicking jaw joints, and pain in the TMJ area upon opening. It is not always possible to pinpoint the exact cause of TMJ. The signs of TMJ can be any combination of the following:
- Frequent migraine-like headaches
- Jaw pain
- Tooth pain
- Jaw clicking when you chew or speak
- Momentary locked jaw position
- Neck, shoulder and back pain
- Ringing in your ears
- Facial swelling
The symptoms of TMD may recur over and over again. You may have difficulty concentrating, socializing, and generally getting by day-to-day while living with the pain. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, our dentists can determine whether jaw joint misalignment, a bad bite, teeth grinding, or another dental issue is the cause. The right diagnosis and treatment can alleviate these symptoms and help get back a lifestyle without constant TMJ pain.
HOW COMMON IS TMD?
Temporomandibular joint disease (TMD) affects 75 million people at any one time. Many are misdiagnosed with migraine headaches or not diagnosed at all, so the number may be much higher. TMD is more common in women than in men.
HOW TMD CAUSES HEADACHES
When your TMJ is in proper alignment, your jaw will function painlessly. But when something causes the jaw joint to become misaligned, injured or inflamed, you can experience a variety of uncomfortable effects. Even stress can take its toll on your jaw. Headaches that mimic migraines are among the most painful of these effects. They are difficult to diagnose, but when caused by TMD and treated correctly, you can expect recovery.
How Do You Diagnose TMD?
Using state-of-the-art technology, our neuromuscular dentists pinpoint the causes of TMD and design a treatment plan that will alleviate the causes of your discomfort, not just the symptoms. Our doctors use a combination of medical and dental exams of your head, neck, jaw, teeth, and bite. A full oral exam is given with diagnostics to determine whether your jaw is in its optimal position, and if not, what treatments would realign it most effectively.
Medical doctors often diagnose this pain like migraine headaches. When medical treatment fails to relieve your headaches, neuromuscular dentists know that TMD is often the cause. Our diagnostic tools and examination procedures include:
- CT scanning
- Magnetic resonance imaging
- Head and neck examinations
- Oral examinations to determine bite alignment and proper jaw range of motion
- TENS unit
- Myotronics K7
Creating A Treatment Plan
Once you have received the proper diagnosis, we can guide you to the right TMJ treatment plan to cure your TMD/TMJ pain. In some cases, the TMD symptoms may simply disappear when the patient begins certain home remedies or lifestyle changes. Of course, not everyone is so lucky and some require the assistance of medications, dental therapies, or even surgery to correct the jaw malalignment and alleviate painful TMD symptoms such as headaches that are so severe many people erroneously think they are migraine headaches.
How We Detect TMD at Galleria Dental Aesthetics
At Galleria Aesthetics we use two methods to detect TMD and determine the appropriate solution: Myotronics K7 evaluation system and the transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) unit. No one method of detection suits every patient. We are pleased to be able to offer you options in every aspect of your dental care. These technologies can provide Dr. Chong Lee with precise details about your jaw alignment, allowing him to customize a long-term treatment option.
Detecting TMD with Myotronics K7
The Myotronics K7 evaluation system is a state-of-the-art, entirely noninvasive advancement in detecting TMD. Using small sensors to track jaw movement, the Myotronics K7 provides us with a three-dimensional representation of your jaw positioning. This machine is lightweight, extremely effective, and allows you to move your head, and even talk during the process.
What is “TENS” and how is it used for TMD?
Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) works by sending mild, electrical pulses into the muscles surrounding your jaw. This allows your jaw to fully relax so we can best determine its optimal position. In addition, the TENS unit blocks pain signals from reaching your brain and can provide several hours of relief from the discomfort associated with TMD.
NEUROMUSCULAR DENTISTRY TESTIMONIAL
“I used to get really bad headaches, which Dr. Lee figured out were from clenching my teeth. He told me about neuromuscular dentistry and explained how a full mouth reconstruction could help with my pain and give me a more attractive smile. I had never really been unhappy with the way my smile looked, but after the procedure I couldn’t’ believe the difference in my appearance. My new smile is beautiful and so natural looking. Dr. Lee even reshaped my gums, which were always too obvious before. I tell my friends to think about having their smile done before getting a facelift or anything like that. People don’t realize how important their teeth really are.” – Joan
“Let me tell you I’m not just a regular dental patient. I’m suffering from a pretty debilitating TMJ disorder. Going through multiple specialists and thousands of dollars I couldn’t find the one who knows what he is doing and has a great track record of successful cases until I heard about Dr. Lee. Should I also mention I travelled from Miami to see him!” -Tatiana
The best TMJ treatment options to treat your jaw pain depend on several factors unique to your particular condition. In most cases, the focus is to restore a comfortable bite. Treatment can range from stretches to alleviate the inflammation and pain in the jaw bone to dental orthotics, and even surgery in some cases. The goal is to realign the TMJ joint that connects the jawbone to your skull and help lessen the symptoms you are experiencing.
Our team may fit you for an orthotic that can help prevent you from tooth grinding or may simply help to relax your jaw. TMJ treatment may also include dental fillings, implants, or fillings because dental problems may be causing jaw pain. Our team may also prescribe jaw exercises or medications, and only surgery when absolutely necessary.
Galleria Dental Aesthetics listens to every patient’s concerns and symptoms to determine the most appropriate treatment that will best suit each patient’s individual needs. We use a variety of dental procedures to raise or lower your jaw into its correct and most relaxed position. In many cases, these procedures will complete within a few short weeks, providing relief from pain, and removing the threat of additional problems that TMD, left untreated, can cause.
additional treatment options
Besides dental orthotic devices, therapy, and dental work, there are other treatment options that may help alleviate the pain of TMD including:
- Medications, such as muscle relaxants and anti-inflammatory drugs
- Relaxation techniques and stress management
- Jaw exercises, stretching, and massage
- Jaw rest
- Heat and ice therapy
- Orthodontics to realign the teeth
- Surgery, only used as a last resort
WHAT CAN I EXPECT DURING TMJ TREATMENT?
We find that many patients experience a significant change in their facial appearance following completion of the treatment. Patients with a recessed lower jaw may have a slightly different profile. In addition, any restorations necessary to correct the bite will be created with consideration to the ideal aesthetic result of your smile. Not only will this procedure correct pain, but it may also improve the aesthetic aspect of your smile.
TMJ RELIEF WITH DENTAL PROCEDURES
One option to alleviate TMJ pain for TMD sufferers is to have a custom mouthguard made to realign your teeth and bite. At other times, there are specific dental procedures that can help our patients regain proper alignment.
WHAT HAPPENS IF TMJ DISORDER IS LEFT UNTREATED?
If you don’t treat your TMJ disorder it may result in a number of serious problems. In addition to chronic jaw pain, TMD can eventually lead to tooth loss, headaches, postural changes, digestive issues, and a host of other dental and systemic concerns.
The best way to prevent these problems and achieve comfort in your jaw is with TMJ treatment. Dr. Lee can discuss this with you in more detail during your neuromuscular dentistry evaluation.
SCHEDULE A CONSULTATION
If you are experiencing any of these TMJ disorder symptoms, contact Galleria Dental Aesthetics. Dr. Lee and Dr. Oh are top neuromuscular dentists who commit themselves to help patients have a better quality of life through proper TMD/TMJ treatment. Call (703) 448-1020 to schedule your comprehensive consultation at our office in McLean or Arlington, VA.
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DENTAL ORTHOTICS FOR TMJ DISORDERAt Galleria Dental Aesthetics, one of the most effective ways to treat TMD is through the use of dental orthotics, also called a mouthguard or splint. An orthotic device is a custom-made dental appliance to help achieve the proper bite alignment after you have been diagnosed with TMD. These comfortable and unobtrusive dental orthotic appliances are worn by the patient according to the neuromuscular dentist’s specifications. There are different goals of dental orthotics, including:
- To protect the teeth from nighttime tooth grinding
- To help reposition the jaw joint to its proper location
- To allow the jaw and face muscles to fully relax
- To realign the patient’s bite to its optimal position
wearing orthotic appliancesSome patients will need to wear a dental orthotic appliance only in the evenings while others may require that the splint be worn all day and night to help achieve the correct bite. Many patients experience almost immediate relief from certain TMJ symptoms while wearing the device, such as severe headaches.