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TMJ Disorder and Treatment

TMJ Disorders and TMJ Treatment in Honolulu, Hawaii

Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction (TMD) and the symptoms associated with the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) can be incredibly debilitating and affect patients of all ages. We are the only center in Hawaii dedicated to relieving TMJ pain at the root cause by targeting the disorder and correcting jaw alignment problems that cause TMD.

What is TMJ?

Perhaps the most important aspect of treating TMJ disorder is understanding the joint itself. The TMJ connects the lower jaw known as the mandible, to the bone at the side of the head, known as the temporal bone. Due to its complex gliding movement and unique tissue composition, the TMJ differs from other supporting joints in the body.

Proper movement of this joint is crucial to many basic functions, such as speech, chewing, and yawning. As the jaw is opened and closed, rounded ends of the mandible (known as condyles) move along the temporal socket. To prevent friction and encourage correct functionality, a small disc cushions the condyle against the temporal bone. The disc subsequently absorbs any shock from chewing or other jaw movements.

What Causes TMD?

Degeneration of the temporomandibular joint can occur a number of ways; however disorder of the jaw joints most often falls into the following three main categories:

1.  Arthritis-related joint disorder
2.  Damage to the condyle, disc, or jaw
3.  Muscle pain or other dysfunction

Often, TMD is triggered by trauma to the jaw or joint itself. In other cases, poor bite or previous orthodontic treatment has created jaw problems. However, TMD can appear to occur spontaneously without any catalyzing trauma. For instance, research into gender predisposition has indicated that more women suffer from TMJ problems than men, due to female hormones that link to the onset of TMJ problems and TMD.

Symptoms of TMD and TMJ Problems

Given the wide-ranging function of the temporomandibular joint, there are many signs and symptoms of TMJ disorder. Among the most common are:

- Radiating pain in the face, jaw, or neck
- Jaw muscle stiffness or fatigue
- Limited jaw movement or increased locking of the jaw
- Ear symptoms such as pain, ringing in the ear (tinnitus), or hearing loss
- Painful clicking, popping, or grating in the jaw joint when opening or closing the mouth
- Facial swelling on the affected side
- A change in your bite or teeth alignment
- Headaches or migraines

While these symptoms are not typically thought of as dental care symptoms, increased and constant pain can make life with TMD uncomfortable to the point where medical help is sought before recognizing the true problem lies within dental care.

TMJ Therapy

Our treatment involves not just addressing the symptoms but treating the root cause of TMJ disorder. The first and most important step to diagnose the problem is to take an image to look at the TMJ joints. We begin by taking a cutting-edge 3-D cone beam computerized tomography(CBCT) scan of the TMJ joints. This gives us the most accurate representation of your TMJ joints and the associated bony structures. Most dental offices are only equipped with 2-dimensional xrays such as a panoramic or cephalometric, which they use along with a visual exam and provide a “mouthguard" for treatment. This only alleviates symptoms but doesn’t fix the cause, which will produce increased symptoms in the future. A CBCT is critical in any thorough examination, and combined with our training allows us to correct TMJ problems non-surgically. After treatment, our TMJ patients will no longer need a dental apparatus for pain relief.

Find TMD and TMJ Treatment in Honolulu

Long term neglect of TMJ problems can exacerbate existing health concerns and make treatment more difficult to obtain. If you recognize any of these symptoms or are concerned that you or a loved one may be suffering from TMD, contact us. We can help you determine the right procedure and customize treatment to help return functionality and normalcy to your life. 

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