Relying on painkillers to dull your mouth, jaw, head, and neck pain will only mask the underlying problems that actually cause your symptoms. In addition, long-term NSAID use harms the kidneys. If you struggle with TMJ pain, the best treatment path is to correct the root of the problem, which is often one or two improperly-seated TMJ joints.
General dentists with advanced training in TMJ therapies can determine whether your condition qualifies for non-invasive or minimally-invasive treatment. A TMJ dentist who has focused his or her continuing education in TMJ therapies will also know when to refer a patient to an oral surgeon.
At Advanced Cosmetic and Family Dentistry, our dentists have studied TMJ disorder and the use of equilibration and/or oral appliance therapy to balance the TMJ system for complete symptom relief.
If you live or work near Alpharetta, GA, schedule a consultation today to talk with Dr. Brett Silverman, or Dr. Darrell Morton about your need for a TMJ specialist. You may also call our office at 678-736-8633.
What Is Temporomandibular Joint Disorder?
The temporomandibular joints connect the lower jawbone, or mandible, to the skull’s temporal bone on both sides of the face. Essential to mouth movement, TMJs assist in everyday tasks such as speaking and chewing. They are strong joints, but when the bones and discs in these joints aren’t correctly aligned, the subsequent pain ranges from aggravating to debilitating.
The side effects of temporomandibular joint disorder flare up when the nerves, ligaments, and muscles surrounding the joints become irritated and inflamed. Pain is typically caused when one or both TMJs experience disc slippage, associated muscle spasms, or trauma.
A common cause of TMJ pain is subconscious teeth grinding, which is a condition known as bruxism. Untreated, bruxism leads to dental wear and breakage, particularly of molars. This then affects the patient’s bite, which further contributes to TMJ disorder. It’s a vicious cycle of deterioration and pain.
Symptoms vary based on a patient’s level of stress and biological damage; they include but aren’t limited to:
Pain when chewing
Headaches or migraines
Clicking or popping jaw joints
Clenching or grinding teeth
Uneven tooth wear, cracks, crazing, and breakage
Pain in cheeks and/or temples
Tingling fingers and/or toes
Loss of strength and/or balance
A TMJ specialist, oral surgeon, or general dentist trained in TMJ therapies can diagnose and treat the underlying cause of these symptoms.
After identifying the root of your TMJ disorder, our TMJ specialist or dentist will review treatment options with you and help you determine the best course of action.
Fortunately, TMJ disorders are treatable and our dentists in Alpharetta provide treatment for TMJ and jaw pain disorders.
Tips for Choosing a TMJ Specialist
Google is a great resource. A quick search is sure to yield multiple TMJ specialists near you. However, patients may feel overwhelmed having to choose a doctor to treat a condition they only know by its symptoms.
What criteria should a wise patient look for in a good TMJ specialist?
In this blog, we’ll explore 5 best ways to choose a TMJ specialist:
Evaluate experience and training
Determine your individual needs
Learn about common treatment options
Read patient reviews
Research nearby TMJ specialists or dentists
With planning and preparation, you can find a respected TMJ doctor to administer treatment that will end your symptoms for good.
1) Evaluate Experience and Training
First, narrow down your list of TMJ specialists by the proximity of their offices to your home, work, or travel route.
Next, schedule an exploratory visit with the doctors, and ask about:
The diagnostic tools or techniques they use to find the cause of jaw pain
Their formal education and training in treating TMJ disorder
Their experience treating cases like yours
How long until you should notice results
Longevity of treatment results
The importance of patient compliance with therapies
What to Expect
At Advanced Cosmetic and Family Dentistry, our compassionate, professional dentists have extensive experience treating patients with TMJ disorder.
At your initial consultation, our dentist will discuss your concerns, answer all of your questions, and manually manipulate your jaw joints to assess their function and form.
2) Determine Your Individual Needs
Individual patient needs include a proper diagnosis. To diagnose TMJ disorder, our dentist will look at a variety of contributing factors. During your consultation in the office, our dentist will feel your jaw and listen for sounds when you close and open your mouth.
We will take time to notice what range of motion you have in your jaw and mouth while also gently pressing on different areas around your jaw to see if you feel any pain or discomfort.
If our dentist believes you are dealing with TMJ disorder, there a few options in order to confirm a diagnosis:
X-Rays: The best possible way to get a clear view of what’s happening in your jaw and mouth would be for you to get X-Rays. The X-Rays will reveal any issues that could be occurring in your jaw or mouth.
CT Scan: In a CT Scan, your dentist will be able to get a clear and detailed visual of any joint issues that could be causing trouble in your jaw.
MRI: An MRI can take these images a step further by providing your dentist with an even more in-depth look at the joints and soft tissues surrounding your jaw.
Arthroscopy: An arthroscopy will allow our dentist to place a small camera through a very thin tube into the joints of your jaw and mouth. This up-close view will help you dentist in diagnosing TMJ Disorder.
Once a diagnosis is confirmed, TMJ treatment can begin.
It is important for our doctor to thoroughly examine your jaw joints and determine the complexity of your case prior to creating a treatment plan. For optimal results, TMJ treatment should be tailored to each patient.
Options for TMJ treatment include:
Rebuilding molars to correct malocclusion (a bad bite)
Wearing braces to correct malocclusion
Wearing an oral appliance to (1) stop teeth grinding, (2) retrain muscles to hold the jaw joints in the most comfortable resting position, and (3) allow strained muscles to rest
Avoiding oral stress, such as chewing on pen caps, gum, and fingernails
Practicing stress-relieving exercises, like yoga or listening to classical music
What to Expect
At Advanced Cosmetic and Family Dentistry in Alpharetta, our TMJ dentist will work one-on-one with you, from the initial meeting, through diagnosis, to creating and completing your uniquely designed treatment plan. We will follow up with you to track progress and answer your questions along the journey.
3) Learn About Treatment Options
There are a variety of ways in which TMJ disorders are treated. TMJ treatment typically involves improving the relationship between the position of the teeth, the muscles of the jaw, and the TMJs themselves. Depending on your situation, some treatments can be done in one phase, while others may take multiple phases.
Familiarize yourself with the TMJ specialist’s most common treatment methods and ask questions. Some common ways to treat TMJ and jaw pain include wearing a mouth guard while you sleep (to prevent teeth grinding), muscle relaxers (depending on the severity of your case), or specific exercises and forms of therapy to heal the TMJ and restore it back to optimal health.
You should gain insight into what treatment will entail so that you feel confident before officially beginning therapy of any kind.
Isolating the specific cause of the TMJ disorder (when possible) will influence which treatments our dentist will recommend. An x-ray or MRI may be needed in order to better identify the specific issue, and put forth the most appropriate treatment.
What to Expect
We often treat jaw pain associated with TMJ disorder by prescribing a custom-fitted mouthguard to wear during sleep. The mouthguard repositions the jaws to prevent teeth grinding, and to retrain the muscles so that they adopt or “memorize” the correct jaw joint position.
Our dentist may prescribe muscle relaxers (in some cases), and we also teach patients specially-designed exercises and therapies that help heal the TMJs and restore optimal health.
4) Read Patient Reviews
Reading reviews and testimonials can be a good source of information. Google makes it difficult to fake a review, so the reviews on Google are usually legitimate.
Read what previous patients think about the TMJ specialists on your short list. You will invariably run across a few people who had negative experiences, so consider the entirety of a doctor’s reviews rather than only a select few.
The more stars a Google Review has, the more favorable the doctor is rated.
If you go to the doctor’s Google Business Profile and click “control + f” on your keyboard, you’ll be able to search for terms. Try “TMJ” and “jaw pain” to identify topic-relevant reviews.
Our patients, including those we treated for TMJ disorder, regularly mention our team’s excellent service, as well as the life-changing results of our care.
5) Research TMJ Specialists Near You
All doctors must complete specific training and residency before being awarded a license to practice. That is where the similarities usually end.
Aspects of the patient experience, such as the office’s appearance, atmosphere, and technology, and the team’s attitude, vary from practice to practice.
Find an office where you feel confident, comfortable, and well cared for, and you’ll be more apt to enjoy your treatment experience.
Being in pain, you may feel anxious, irritable, or fearful about seeing a TMJ specialist. If so, visit the doctor’s website to find out how his or her practice helps patients have peace of mind and body. Some offer sedatives; others provide comforting amenities and an attentive, caring chair-side manner.
Also, visit the doctor’s “about us” or “meet the team” page on his or her website (you can find ours here). Additionally, click the follow links to learn more about our dentists:
There, you should learn about the TMJ specialist’s training, philosophy of care, and personality. Again, selecting a practitioner whom you like, and an office where you feel comfortable, are the main goals.
What to Expect
At Advanced Cosmetic and Family Dentistry, we offer blankets, pillows, and refreshments to help our patients feel welcome and comfy.
We can also administer medications (sedation dentistry) that relieve anxiety and pain. Your comfort is one of our top priorities, so just let us know what we can do for you.
Schedule Your Appointment Today
Are you experiencing temporomandibular joint pain? If you need a physician, dentist, or TMJ specialist in Alpharetta, GA, schedule a consultation with Advanced Cosmetic and Family Dentistry. Call or contact us online today.