Non-Surgical TMJ Disorder Treatment
Temporomandibular joint disorder, or TMD, can cause chronic pain and discomfort, taking a significant toll on your quality of life. Located just in front of your ears, the temporomandibular joints (TMJs) connect your lower jaw to your skull and make it possible to chew and speak comfortably. When these joints become inflamed or damaged by trauma, teeth grinding, or arthritis, TMD can ensue. Fortunately, Dr. Jerry Hancock offers comprehensive and non-invasive TMJ treatment at his Nashville, TN, practice. While oral appliances are the most common solution, we can combine several treatments to create a plan especially for you.
What is TMJ Disorder?
TMJ disorder, or TMD, affects the temporomandibular joints and muscles, which control jaw movement. These joints connect the temporal bone to the mandible. Between these bones lies a shock-absorbing disc, which ensures smooth movement and protects the bones from directly interacting with one another. When the temporomandibular joints become inflamed or the disc is damaged, patients can experience jaw pain, headaches, neck or back pain, and a clicking sound when speaking or eating.
It is our goal to not only alleviate the symptoms but address the source of your condition for long-term relief.
TMD can have several causes, including injury or trauma, arthritis, or bruxism – the habitual clenching and grinding of teeth. Stress can also aggravate the symptoms of TMD, as anxiety can increase your tendency to clench your jaw. Sometimes, dental misalignment can result in TMD, as an imbalance between your dental arches can place undue pressure on your joints. Patients with bad posture are also at a higher risk of developing TMD, as they may extend their neck forward and compress the temporomandibular joints. If you have TMD, behaviors like chewing gum or eating hard-to-chew foods can intensify existing symptoms.
Advanced Training and Diligent Treatment Planning
With more than 200 hours of advanced training at the Kois Center in Seattle, Dr. Hancock is highly knowledgeable about TMD and specializes in addressing occlusal and TMJ-related issues. Dr. Hancock has successfully treated patients with TMD for more than eight years, and offers a variety of customized options tailored to our patients' needs.
At our practice, we proudly incorporate advanced diagnostic tools to more effectively plan and execute treatment. We can take digital x-rays and panoramic images for a more comprehensive view of your teeth and jawbone. During a visual exam, Dr. Hancock can identify signs of swelling or inflammation and listen for jaw clicking. He can also test the force of your bite and observe your range of motion. After examining the structure of your smile, Dr. Hancock can assess your lifestyle and treatment goals before recommending the appropriate solution.
To establish the stability of your bite and evaluate your occlusion, Dr. Hancock uses the Kois Deprogrammer appliance. This plastic retainer can identify the correct bite relation between the upper and lower arch, which is essential for restoring proper dental function. Once Dr. Hancock understands how your teeth fit together, he can determine the most effective way to redistribute the force of your bite and alleviate your pain.
Symptoms of TMJ Disorder
Depending upon the severity of your condition, you may experience:
- A clicking noise when you open or close your mouth, including when you chew and yawn
- Pain in your jaw
- Pain across your face and neck
- Stiff muscles and problems with jaw motion
- Locking of the jaw
- Changes in bite and difficulty chewing
- Changes in the way your teeth fit together
During your evaluation, we can take note of any signs of TMJ to determine the underlying cause. It is our goal to not only alleviate the symptoms but address the source of your condition for long-term relief.
Treatment Options for TMD
There are numerous ways to address the causes of TMJ disorder and the resulting symptoms.
- We can design a custom-made device that fits comfortably over your teeth. Typically worn at night, an oral appliance gently pushes your lower jaw forward to relieve pressure on your TMJs. It also protects your teeth from damage as a result of bruxism. This process can reduce inflammation and give your joints time to heal.
- If poorly positioned teeth are at the root of your condition, Dr. Hancock may recommend orthodontia. We offer Invisalign®, which can not only improve your symptoms but help you achieve a straighter smile. In severe cases, we may refer you to a specialist.
- Restorative Treatment
- We can also replace missing teeth or repair worn teeth to improve the balance of your bite and prevent shifting. We can place and restore dental implants with a crown, bridge, or denture. If you have large gaps in your smile, or you have both missing teeth and dental erosion, we can combine several treatments into a full mouth reconstruction.
- Jaw Exercises and Massage
- Exercises and massage can help to ease inflammation and strengthen your muscles to prevent future discomfort. Dr. Hancock can demonstrate exercises suited to the cause and severity of your condition. It is important to perform any stretching or massage as directed.
- Lifestyle Changes
- We may recommend lifestyle changes as a supplement to clinical treatment. Improving your posture and refraining from gum chewing can greatly improve your condition. To minimize anxiety, you can incorporate relaxation techniques like yoga or meditation into your daily routine. We may also pair behavioral changes with anti-inflammatory medication to help alleviate pain more completely.
If you have any questions regarding your treatment options, our friendly team would be happy to assist you further during your private consultation.
Experience the Relief You Deserve
If you are suffering from the painful symptoms of temporomandibular joint disorder, our team can design an effective treatment plan. It is our goal to not only improve the health of your smile, but also your quality of life. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Hancock, we invite you to call (615) 383-0132 or contact us online anytime.
“Everyone here provides great customer services by treating patients like family.” —Katie