TMJ Dentist In Calgary

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I had my doubts about TMJ/Myofacial dentistry with a bad experience in Toronto with such dentists many years ago.
But Dr Silver and her team are fantastic, professional, knowledgeable, caring and want to help you not be in pain like I have for decades. Great TMJ dentist!

— Shaf J, ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ Google Review

What is TMJ/TMD Disorder?

The temporomandibular joint is the jaw joint that connects your lower jaw (mandible) and your upper jaw (maxilla). You can feel it if you place a finger in front of each ear and open and close your mouth. When the jaw is misaligned, a host of painful and limiting symptoms may occur. These are related to TMJ, alternately called TMD, a broad term covering any temporomandibular joint disorder.

Temporomandibular joint disorder (abbreviated as TMJ or TMD) is not a single condition, but rather a number of conditions that are caused by jaw misalignment. This neuromuscular disorder often results in migraine-like headaches and other painful symptoms, yet remains one of the most commonly overlooked causes of chronic facial, neck, and shoulder pain.

The best way to know if the symptoms of jaw, facial, neck, or shoulder pain you’re experiencing are related to TMJ, is to visit our dentist Dr. Jennifer Silver for a consultation.

TMJ Symptoms

TMJ symptoms can vary from mild headaches to severe chronic pain or swelling of your jaw. All symptoms include:
  • Clicking or popping noises when chewing
  • Grinding noises when moving the jaw
  • Pain and/or swelling around the jaw joint
  • Limited jaw movement
  • Complete lockjaw
  • Sleep Apnea
  • Chronic, migraine-style headaches
  • Tinnitus (ringing in your ear)
  • Ear pressure or pain without the presence of infection
  • Pressure behind the eyes
  • Generalized facial pain
  • Pain in the neck, shoulders, or back
  • Increased tooth sensitivity
  • Difficulty swallowing

How We Diagnose TMJ

Screening for TMJ disorder starts with an exam where we physically feel each side of your mouth nearest to the joint. From there, we’ll watch how your jaw functions, including how widely you can open and if there’s any deviation to one side or the other. Symptoms like popping or clicking are also noted. We’ll also feel the muscles around your jaws, face, and neck to see if there is any tenderness or signs of overuse.

  • We’ll also take an X-ray such as a panoramic or CT scan to capture the anatomy of your TMJ to see if there’s anything structurally wrong with the joint.
  • Your teeth will be checked for signs of clenching and grinding, such as flat, worn down enamel, or broken dental work (which is a common cause of TMJ).
  • Once we pinpoint the suspected cause of your TMJ disorder and make a diagnosis as to how severe it is, we will discuss which treatment options are available. Be sure to let us know of any symptoms that you’re experiencing so that no risk factors go unnoticed.

Do you suffer from TMJ Disorder?

Contact Dr. Jennifer Silver to help treat your TMJ pain today!

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How We Treat Your TMJ Pain

TMJ treatment options depend on the unique circumstances of your condition. In some cases, a nighttime mouth guard or grinding appliance to help protect the muscles, teeth, and jaw joints from the forces of nighttime grinding can be enough to alleviate the pain. However, for patients whose TMJ is caused by bite conditions or significant jaw alignment problems that are not alleviated by the use of a nighttime grinding appliance may benefit from the use of an oral appliance worn during the day.

 

In all cases, TMJ treatment will occur in two phases, allowing for long-term results and lasting relief from pain. The two main phases of TMJ treatment are:

  1. Bite Stabilization: We’ll determine the bite position that best allows your jaw muscles to relax. You’ll then be fitted with an orthotic (a small piece of customized plastic that trains your jaw and helps it find its natural biting place) also known as a TMJ splint. The orthotic is fitted over your lower teeth and is custom-built for your unique needs. This orthotic may be removable or fixed — again, depending on your situation. Once your symptoms have eased, we will move on to a long-term solution.
  2. Long-Term Solutions: The exact nature of your long-term treatment will depend on the severity of your TMJ problem. We will design the solution that will most effectively alleviate your symptoms. This could mean mouth reconstruction or Invisalign.

Occasionally, a combination of the above options will be needed to provide long-term stabilization.

TMJ Risk Factors

A “risk factor” is a condition that increases your chances of developing TMJ. It's possible to have TMJ without having any of the risk factors, but the more risk factors you have, the more likely it is you will develop this disorder. Common risk factors for TMJ include:
  • Misaligned bite: If your teeth are not in proper alignment, your jaw muscles will experience constant stress trying to shift your bite back into a manageable position, leading to TMJ.
  • BruxismStress causes many people to habitually grind or clench their teeth at night, and sometimes even during the day. This constant wear can change the shape of your teeth and bite.
  • Jaw deformities: Some people are born with facial bone deformities that affect how their jaw functions and/or how their bite comes together.
  • Bad posture: If you suffer from bad posture due to spinal misalignment or other issues with body mechanics and stability, TMJ is a common result.
  • Car accidents: Following whiplash injuries in car accidents (also known as MVAs) patients can develop TMJ symptoms.
  • Arthritis: Certain arthritic conditions can damage the cartilage that lines your joints, changing, and degrading bone, resulting in TMJ.
  • Synovitis: This condition involves inflammation of your synovial membrane, which lines the temporomandibular joint.
  • Jaw or facial injuries: TMJ can occur any time one of your facial bones suffers a traumatic injury, such as a fracture or dislocation.
  • Gender: Women are three times more likely to develop TMJ than men.

Neuromuscular Dentistry

Neuromuscular problems are not simply limited to the jaw joint area. Spinal misalignment, postural issues, muscle problems, and other body issues can have an effect on your bite. Our team performs comprehensive exams (see below) to ensure a proper TMJ diagnosis. Treatment options may include chiropractic care, physical therapy, massage therapy, dental restorations, orthodontics, and other therapies based on the evaluation findings.

  • Postural evaluation: We assess your posture in relation to the lower jaw, neck, and cranium to identify any problems. If chiropractic issues are suspected, we’ll refer you to a NUCCA chiropractor for an in-depth analysis before you seek neuromuscular dental treatment.
  • Muscle evaluation: The muscles of the jaw, neck, head, back, and extremities play a role in the health of your bite. An evaluation of these muscles will be performed by palpation (physical touch) to assess painful muscles and potential trigger points.
  • Craniocervical evaluation: If we’re concerned you may have a craniocervical issue, we will refer you to a NUCCA chiropractor for an assessment.
  • Neurological evaluation: Special attention is paid to the nerves that carry out movement in the head, neck, and back. In some cases, neurological issues may present symptoms similar to TMJ.

FAQs

No. If left untreated, temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ) can lead to progressively worsening pain and an increase in symptoms. It can also contribute to oral health problems including premature wear of your teeth and periodontal disease. TMJ is a degenerative disease, meaning it won’t get better without treatment.

The cost of TMJ or neuromuscular treatments will depend largely on the diagnosis and treatment recommendations we deliver. In some cases, insurance may cover a portion of the expenses.

Treatment for TMJ disorder usually falls under dental therapies like orthodontics, bite splints, adjustments to existing restorations, or special mouth guards to wear while you’re sleeping. However, there is some overlap in certain procedures to help with TMJ and whether they’re categorized as medical or dental. For instance, physical therapy or injectables.

When you’re planning TMJ treatment with us, be sure to let us know which types of coverage you have and bring a copy of your insurance card to your appointment. Our treatment coordinators will be able to use your information to provide you with a detailed estimate as to what services are covered, and under which policy.

TMJ pain tends to be something that comes and goes, or “flares up” at key times. If you clench your teeth a lot, are undergoing stress in your everyday life, or have a habit of using chewing gum or eating firm foods, that strain can lead to muscle soreness around your TMJ.

As with any type of muscle or joint soreness, it can take a day or two for the pain to go away. The key is to get plenty of rest and take it easy. For people with TMJ disorder, that also means using an appropriate splint or therapy to discourage joint strain and overuse.

In the meantime, you can apply a warm compress to the side of your mouth and take an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory (such as ibuprofen) as directed. But the key is to keep the pain from recurring. So, if you catch yourself clenching, be sure to wear your bite splint!

If you’re not treating the true cause of your TMJ, and it’s related to something like tooth misalignment, the pain will not improve until you finally complete orthodontic treatment.

TMJ pain isn’t always limited to the area where your jaw joints are. It’s actually quite common for the discomfort to radiate well into your forehead, scalp, ears, neck, shoulders, back, and your teeth.

Since bruxism (clenching and grinding) is a primary factor with TMJ disorder, it’s important to look at the condition as a series of muscles contracting over and over. Each of those muscles has an entry point where they connect to your body. If one end is at the TMJ, the other is elsewhere. That’s why it’s so common for your neck and shoulders to tense up if you’re constantly tightening your jaw.

Headaches and earaches are common symptoms of TMJ disorder. Even if you visit an ENT and have no apparent signs of an ear infection, you could have serious ear pain because of how close your ears are to your TMJ.

And of course, it’s possible to feel pain in and immediately around your TMJ. Joint stiffness, popping, clicking, and limited range of motion are some of the most common symptoms to accompany any soreness.

When we order a CT scan or panoramic (full mouth) X-ray, your TMJ is visible on the image. We use this information during your exam to evaluate your jaw anatomy, function, and screen for signs of disorders.

If you have a TMJ condition related to joint deterioration, anatomical anomalies, or some type of degenerative disc disease, there will likely be visible signs of the condition on your CT scan/X-ray.

However, a physical examination is still necessary. We’ll feel either side of your jaw as you open and close, checking for atypical movement and signs of TMJ disorder. Some of these conditions aren’t visible on an X-ray, but the images help to provide a comprehensive assessment of the situation at hand. For instance, muscle strain because of bruxism (clenching and grinding) won’t show up on an X-ray, but it might on a CT scan or during your exam.

TMJ surgery is typically reserved for the most severe types of joint disorder. The standard of care is to first pursue non-invasive and therapeutic options for treating TMJ disorder. These include things like massage, physical therapy, orthodontic treatments, warm compresses, dietary changes, bite splints, injectables, and bite rehabilitation.

If for any reason these measures are not effective or do not offer TMJ pain relief, then we may recommend oral surgery on the joint. One example of when surgery is needed is if there are structural irregularities inside of the TMJ itself, which we can see on a CT scan or X-ray.

Deciding to get oral surgery for TMJ needs to be a well-thought-out process and requires lengthy recovery time. In most cases, a team of dental providers or surgeons will evaluate your jaw to determine the best type of surgery and create a care plan for you to review. Surgery is usually one of the last recommended treatment options for TMD, and only when there’s severe discomfort or the condition interferes with your daily quality of life.

In most scenarios, TMJ disorder is treated by a dentist. Since dentists are the only providers who can fit you with a custom bite guard or TMJ splint.

When TMJ damage is severe, such as a disorder caused by joint deterioration or injury, a surgeon may need to be consulted. It’s important to know that surgery for TMJ disorder is not common, and it’s typically reserved for the most extreme cases.

If you see a medical doctor for TMJ, they might recommend warm compresses, pain relievers, or rest. All three of these options can help, but they don’t correct the cause of your joint pain.

Rest, warm compresses, and an over-the-counter pain reliever like ibuprofen are best for occasional TMJ pain. Avoid eating chewy foods like steak or chewing gum to give your jaws some time to relax. Although not as common, muscle relaxers are sometimes used to help reduce the tension that’s building up to the pain in your TMJ.

Because there are so many components working together to create a balanced bite, it often takes more than one type of treatment to turn a bad bite into a healthy one. Treatment combinations may include lifestyle changes, postural or physical therapies, chiropractic care, cosmetic dentistry, or orthotic devices, depending on your physical symptoms and jaw-tracking diagnosis results.

If TMJ pain continues, we recommend contacting your dentist to find the right next step for treatment.

About Dr. Jennifer Silver

Dr. Jennifer Silver has been helping patients in Calgary relieve their TMJ pain for the past 15 years! She understands better than anyone that everyone is different and that a one-size-fits-all methodology won’t work. She’ll work closely with you to determine the best TMJ treatment plan for your unique circumstances.

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