What is TMD?

TMJ disorders frequently result when the chewing muscles, the teeth and the TMJ (temporomandibular joint) do not work together properly. Some common causes are trauma, stress, neck and shoulder tightness, and clenching. TMD is an umbrella term covering pain and dysfunction of the TMJ, muscles used moving the jaw and the surrounding fascia. Dental occlusion (bite) is often related or causative in TMJ problems. TMD is not life-threatening though symptoms can sometimes mimic those of a heart attack. It is a significant detriment to quality of life. Without treatment, the symptoms can become chronic and difficult to manage. TMD can affect a person's ability to speak, chew, swallow, make facial expressions, and even breathe.

Research indicates that TMD is a complex disease like hypertension or diabetes involving genetic, environmental, behavioral, and gender-related factors. Scientists have found that most patients with TMD also experience pain and disruption in other parts of the body. These conditions include chronic fatigue syndrome, chronic headache, endometriosis, fibromyalgia, interstitial cystitis, irritable bowel syndrome, low back pain, sleep disorders and valval pain.

TMD can be caused by a range of factors including autoimmune diseases, infections, injuries to the jaw area, insertion of breathing tubes before surgery, and various forms of arthritis. The observation that jaw problems are commonly found in women in the childbearing years has also led to research to determine the role of female sex hormones, particularly estrogen, in TMD. Environmental factors such as habitual gum chewing or sustained jaw positions, such as resting a phone on your shoulder, may also contribute to TMD.

“TMD is not life-threatening, but it is a significant detriment to quality of life.”
 
 

Our Treatment Process

We treat all facets of temporomandibular joint dysfunction, or TMD. Our office has works with neurologists, ENT's, psychologists, chiropractors, physical therapists, attorneys, and natural health practitioners. Because of the multifaceted experience we have gained in this field, we bring a unique ability to our patients. We offer a complete, all natural, nonsurgical in-office program for treating TMJ problems and related symptoms such as headaches, jaw pain, bruxism (clenching and teeth grinding), tinnitus (ringing in the ears), and otalgia(ear pain.)

 Integrated TMJ & Sleep Solutions uses state-of-the-art joint vibration analysis to diagnose TMJ dysfunction. Once we have identified the cause and location of the problem, we initiate a comprehensive array of treatment solutions. These may include:

•Ultrasound: helps to break up scar tissue and adhesions, increases blood flow/healing to the applied area. Through the production of penetrating sound waves and heat, ultrasound works on the deeper muscles and tissue that a heat pack cannot reach. The heat causes an increase in blood flow, which prepares the muscles for the next step, trigger-point specific massage.

•Massage: helps relax the muscles, bring blood flow to the area, and advance healing. During the massage, our licensed/certified staff will seek out and locate trigger points in the muscles that cause pain. The trigger points may refer pain from the muscle to other areas of the body.

•Acupuncture: decreases pain by increasing the release of chemicals that block pain, called endorphins.  Many acupuncture points are near nerves.  When stimulated, these nerves cause a dull aching sensation in the muscle.  The stimulated muscle sends a message to the central nervous system, causing the release of endorphins.  Along with other neurotransmitters, endorphins block the message of pain from being delivered by the brain. 

• Low-level Laser: low-level cold laser helps not only to decrease pain and inflammation but also speeds up the healing process of the muscles and joints, increasing healing time by 25-35%. The low level laser uses a non-heat laser light to send a signal to the muscles and nerves to produce ATP, or energy, allowing the muscles to relax and increase in blood flow.

• Neuromuscular Re-Education: Taught by our skilled movement coach and certified Feldenkrais practitioner Rose Silberman, the Feldenkrais Method of somatic education helps to improve your posture and kinesthetic awareness. This can be a substantial benefit to every aspect of one’s life, but when applied specifically to the treatment of TMJ dysfunction, it helps correct forward head posture, a common issue with temporomandibular joint dis-placement.

• Occlusal Appliance Therapy: An occlusal appliance is the most common tool in treating TMJ dysfunction. It’s a type of mouth piece that is custom fabricated to fit your bite, which can be worn at night or 24 hours a day, if needed. The device’s bite is carefully designed to control forces on the teeth and diminish muscle pain. Occlusal orthotic appliances are also one of the most effective methods for treating TMD. Typically, 70-90% of patients report significant relief from wearing one.