Dr. Mazhari, as an Alexandria dentist with extensive specialized training in diagnosing and treating TMJ, discusses some of the different potential causes for TMJ related pain and disorders.
What are the potential causes of TMJ related pain or TMJ disorders?
The first step in diagnosing TMJ related pain is to determine whether the bite correction is the reason or cause of their pain, as there could be other causes. To help with this determination, in some cases we could take an MRI from the soft tissue.
For TMJ, it’s important to look at potential arthritis in the patient’s joints.
Sometimes there’s arthritis in the joints, just like any part of the body. There are systemic problems that could cause pain in the joints, not just TMJ. By conducting tests, we can see if the jaw pain is systemic overall, like a bone degeneration type of arthritic change, or whether it is directly linked to the bite.
Sometimes there can be potential connections between anatomical issues and TMJ.
Anatomical issues can have a direct correlation with TMJ pain, like sometimes when we are born, the head and neck don’t develop correctly. As we grow, allergies, adenoids, tonsils and breathing all affect how our face develops, so in some cases, causes of jaw pain can be anatomical in nature.
Connections with ear & vertigo issues can also impact TMJ pain
TMJ is sometimes related to the ear. With ear issues like with vertigo, if it’s not an ear issue, then you can address the TMJ, but if it is an ear issue, then that will involve ENT doctors. The ENT doctors (a doctor who has special training in diagnosing and treating diseases of the ear, nose, and throat), after their diagnosis, and knowing those patients have often also been to the neurologist, have told patients there’s nothing wrong with your ears, and that they need to go to see someone specialized in treating TMJ, which is when they can come to see me.
If the ENT doctor comes to find out that the pain is an ear issue, then it has nothing to do with TMJ, so they handle treatment and often use special exercises.
Sometimes patients experiencing TMJ pain need co-therapies like physical therapy or chiropractic care
Physical therapists and chiropractors can align the upper cervical vertebra, which is done before patients come to me, so we are then able to find the issues with the bite. Physical therapists are also needed, who work with muscles to unlock the trigger points. Those trigger points are so ingrained into the muscle that sometimes the appliance alone doesn’t unravel these trigger points. These tight spots or if there’s adhesion in the muscle or if there’s
scar tissue in the muscle, all of these issues need to be addressed by a physical therapist.
Additional therapies directly related to muscle work can help with TMJ treatment
Dry needling and other therapies that are have to do directly with muscle work, might have to be undertaken before any TMJ treatment is done. However, for some patients if we put the TMJ appliance in, and the patient is getting better, that could be a good foundation while they’re going through this these other treatments.
Past or recent trauma could be a cause for TMJ pain
Sometimes it’s trauma that could be impacting a patient’s TMJ pain. I had a patient that fell, and her entire face was bruised and she was wearing an appliance for the bite correction, that preserved a lot of her teeth. But also some of her teeth fractured due to the fall, and we don’t know down the road if any issues related to those fractures will show up, such as if the joint was cracked if there is other damage, so the TMJ pain a patient is experiencing could be directly related to trauma accidents that shows up years later.
Will I need to have surgery to correct my TMJ?
I don’t generally believe in surgery to correct TMJ right off the bat, as I think there’s so many non invasive approaches for some of these cases, not all of them, but we have figure it out with patients as they go through phase one.
So how do I get started with Dr. Mazhari to discuss my TMJ pain?
So I take the time to discuss with my patients that there are many different things that could be causing their pain, other than the bite, but once we review the responses on our new patient questionnaires, given the similarity in their symptoms and responses, we can be confident in our ability to identify patients that have TMJ pain, because we’re confident the pain is directly related to their bite. As such I can conclude that if we correct the bite, there’s a good chance the TMJ pain will go away.
But all patients have to go through phase one with an appliance, so we can see and determine the appropriate TMJ treatment plan.
If you are experiencing TMJ related pain or disorders, we encourage you to contact Alexandria Dental Health & Smile Studio, to schedule your consultation with Dr. Mazhari today.