If you have recently been diagnosed with temporomandibular joint disorder (better known as TMD), you are not alone. It is estimated that up to 35 million people in the United States struggle with this condition, which affects the joints that connect the jaw to the skull. TMD can produce a host of painful symptoms, including headaches, neck and shoulder discomfort, dizziness, and vision problems, along with a range of other concerns. Twice as many women as men have TMD, and patients frequently report an unsettling clicking or popping sound being heard upon opening their jaw. It is also not uncommon for the jaw to become difficult to move or totally locked in place when suffering from TMD.
Frustrated by these and other symptoms, you may be wondering what options are available to treat TMD. The expert dentists at SmilesNY in New York City work closely with patients to help correct the condition. They employ a computer-guided treatment called Disclusion Time Reduction Therapy (DTR) that works to improve some of the symptoms associated with TMD. In the following information, the skilled team at SmilesNY detail TMD and its treatments as well as the process involved with groundbreaking DTR therapy.
What Is TMD?
Located on either side of the head in front of the ears, the hinge-like temporomandibular joints (TMJ) attach the skull to the jawbone. With the help of ligaments, muscles, discs, and bones, the TMJ work to create the movements involved with eating and speaking. Because the joints can slide, they may be easily damaged, especially when shock-absorbing discs between the skull and lower jaw slip out of alignment or break down. As a result, TMD may be experienced.
The cause of TMD differs from one person to the next. Problems in the TMJ or nearby muscles, as well as an injury to the jaw or muscles of the head and neck (such as whiplash), can be to blame. A condition called bruxism, which involves grinding the teeth and clenching the jaw, is often a culprit of TMD, along with arthritis, stress, and dislocation of the jaw.
What Are the Symptoms?
The symptoms of TMD are varied. Many New York City patients report hearing a ringing sound (also known as tinnitus) and feeling pain inside and around the ears. Popping, clicking, and grinding noises can also be heard as the mouth is opened or closed. Facial pain, swelling, and muscle soreness are common, along with tooth sensitivity, dizziness, and achiness in the neck and shoulders. Chewing properly may also prove challenging. The jaw muscles may feel tender and painful, especially during the morning and late-afternoon hours, when while yawning, chewing, or biting down. Opening the mouth widely can be difficult and, once open, the jaw may become stuck in that position. Frequent, debilitating headaches may also be experienced by those who suffer from TMD.
Treating Your TMD
Following a thorough oral examination, the experienced dentists at SmilesNY in New York City will determine whether you suffer from TMD. If so, a treatment plan will be devised and may include one or more professional treatments as well as at-home methods that may work to improve your specific issues and provide you with much-needed relief. If you suffer from bruxism, a custom-crafted nightguard may be created to help the jaw remain properly positioned and prevent you from grinding your teeth as you sleep.
When the teeth are misaligned (a condition called dental malocclusion), stress may be placed on your TMJ and result in TMD. To reduce this pressure, as well as help balance your smile, orthodontic treatments such as traditional metal braces or Invisalign® clear aligners for teeth straightening may be recommended.
It also may be helpful to have your posture evaluated to alleviate some TMD symptoms, especially neck and shoulder pain. You may be advised to perform relaxation, meditation, and breathing exercises to help reduce stress. While at home, you may benefit from the use of heat and ice packs as well as over-the-counter pain and anti-inflammatory medications to help alleviate TMD-related discomfort. Anti-anxiety medications and muscle relaxants may also be prescribed, especially if difficulty moving the TMJ or chronic jaw clenching is experienced.
What Is Disclusion Time Reduction Therapy (DTR)?
It may be surprising to learn that many head and neck muscles are associated with TMD. How these muscles function is in large part determined by the way your teeth come together. When the timing and force of your bite are not in alignment, it causes the muscles that control your jaw to become imbalanced, overworked, and fatigued. Tightening of the muscles that support oral activity may lead to chronic headaches, migraines, and shoulder and neck aches, among other symptoms.
The team at SmilesNY is pleased to offer noninvasive TMD treatments with Disclusion Time Reduction Therapy (DTR) for New York City patients. To perform this type of care, T-Scan™ and EMG (electromyography) technologies are used to measure the timing, pressure, and muscle activity associated with the bite. The force of the bite is analyzed and the percentage of the force between the opposing teeth is measured. The timing, balance, and impact that occurs between teeth as chewing occurs are also calculated. This data assists the dental team when removing small, precise amounts of enamel from the teeth where uneven pressure exists. It further aids in determining exactly where the tooth should be built up with a tooth-colored filling to create a better balance and improve the bite. The activity of the muscles supporting the TMJ is also evaluated.
As the force and balance begin to even out, the muscles become more relaxed. Patients who undergo this type of therapy may notice an improvement in their symptoms as soon as DTR treatment is completed. No physical therapy, special diet, surgery, prescription medication, or downtime is typically required as part of DTR therapy. Although some symptoms can be alleviated after just one session, most patients see optimal results following 2 – 4 DTR therapy treatments.
There is no reason to struggle with chronic headaches, dizziness, and jaw and facial pain associated with the condition known as TMD. Although other treatments are available to help alleviate these and other symptoms, cutting-edge TMD treatment with Disclusion Time Reduction Therapy has proven to be especially beneficial. DTR works by analyzing several aspects of how the teeth meet together, allowing for the proper reshaping of chewing surfaces and the correction of a misaligned bite to improve TMD-related symptoms. If you are suffering from TMD, schedule an appointment with the experienced dentists at SmilesNY in New York City today and get back to feeling your best.