Do you suffer from chronic facial, jaw, or neck pain, as well as severe, recurring headaches? In some cases, this pain is due to Temporomandibular Disorder, also known as TMJ/TMD.

TMJ is the abbreviation for the Temporomandibular Joint, the jaw joint anatomy. TMD is the abbreviation for the problems that affect the jaw joints, called Temporomandibular Dysfunction. These two terms are often used interchangeably among patients and even medical and dental professionals.

Forces from tooth grinding and clenching at night puts abnormal damaging forces on the muscles, teeth, gums, and jaw joints (TMJ). Nighttime tooth grinding is very common and most often inherited from our parents. This muscle activity starts as young as five years of age. Over time, the increased muscle activity is what leads to tooth wear, muscle tension headaches, migraine headaches, clicking or popping of the TMJ, and gum recession. It is also very common to experience ear symptoms such as ringing or fullness. Many TMD patients will seek help from their ENT doctors, only to find that the ears are fine. The problem is a TMD issue.

Symptoms of TMD include:

  • Pain in the jaw area just in front of the ear
  • Pain, ringing, or stuffiness in the ears
  • Frequent headaches or neck aches
  • Clicking or popping sound when the jaw moves
  • Grinding or crunching noises in the jaw joint when eating
  • Muscle tension in the jaw area
  • A change in the alignment of top and bottom teeth
  • Locked jaw or limited opening of the mouth

If you notice that you are experiencing any of these symptoms or a combination, you may be suffering from TMD.

What is TMJ/TMD Treatment like at Tom F. Hall, DDS, MS?

Orthodontics is often used to help treat TMJ/TMD, but it is not the first step. The first step is to reduce muscle activity in both frequency and intensity. Once this occurs, a stable and comfortable bite has been established.

As an orthodontist specialist, Dr. Hall has a unique background in conservative bite development, function, and TMJ/TMD treatment. He offers easy to understand concepts and management solutions to alleviate and normalize bite function. From the convenience of our Greater Heights and Buffalo Speedway Houston orthodontic offices, we utilize intraoral splints that are easy to use and provide relief from TMJ/TMD symptoms. Once comfortable chewing function has stabilized, then it is possible to diagnose whether bite alignment with orthodontics is needed. This when orthodontics is often used and is the most conservative and reliable time to approach specialty TMJ/TMD management.

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