TMJ Disorders and Pain

Pain of the Joints that move our jaws and the muscles and soft connective tissue that supports them fits into a category of disorders commonly referred to as “TMJ”. The Temporo-Mandibular- Joints are very complex joints just in front of the ear. The joints purpose in moving the jaw for chewing and its intimate relationship muscularly and neurologically to the teeth make treatment and manage meant of conditions related to this joint an important part of the practice of dentistry.

“TMJ” is not one disease, but rather a wide category of disorders and conditions in which the joint and supporting structures are changed by either acute trauma, chronic wear, or unusual development.

Specific Joint Changes can range in severity in a variety of levels of damage to the bone and connective tissue. This can range from slipping discs to arthritic changes in the bone.

I many instances, joints can be relatively healthy, yet muscle and fascia in the face, head, and neck can be fatigued and inflamed due to dental conditions such as clinching, grinding, malocclusion (bad bites), and dental arch deformities. Likewise, many of these cases have a biological changes at the cellular level in cases that may not have nutritive healing processes due to lack of sleep following poor upper airway respiration. Often times an integral part of head and neck pain resolution includes acknowledging healthy breathing.

Dr. Kelly has made treating TMD, dental related headaches, and myofascial pain part of his practice through his whole career. Very simply, every change to the teeth has an effect on the greater chewing system. Fully responsible, complete dentistry requires a thorough acknowledgement of this system in the process of restoring health in the teeth. Likewise, restoring health to joints and connective tissues often requires changes to the teeth.

Some treatment and diagnostic tools Dr. Kelly uses to manage TMD:
- Airway Screening
- MRI/ CBCT 3D imaging
- Thorough physical examination
- Appliance therapy
- Dental restoration
- Bite Balancing
- Inflamation Management
- Myofunctional Therapy