TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorder is a complex condition, which is known for being difficult to diagnose and treat. Despite the prevalence, it has long been misunderstood, and difficult to treat. Dr. Don Mungcal is at the forefront of a growing movement of dental professionals treating TMJ disorder. Many patients find relief from custom-made oral appliances; however, Dr. Mungcal understands that no single treatment is right for everyone.
The TMJ, commonly called the jaw joint, is capable of exerting considerable force. Yet it is an intricate system, composed of nerves, ligaments, muscles, and other tissues. Like a precision machine, all components must be in exact alignment for optimal functionality. Imbalanced pressure, strain, or damage to any part of the jaw can have far-reaching effects.
The first challenge in treatment of TMJ disorder is obtaining an accurate diagnosis. Physicians often focus on individual symptoms, without recognizing the cause of the problem. For example, TMJ disorder patients may be diagnosed with tinnitus, migraines, or vertigo. However, treatments are unlikely to bring relief without correcting the underlying jaw problem.
Once a diagnosis is achieved, it can still be challenging to find an effective treatment. Dr. Mungcal knows that simply identifying a TMJ disorder is not enough. That would be similar to diagnosing someone with an elbow disorder, without determining if it was strained, sprained, broken, or dislocated. There are several options for treating TMJ disorders, depending on the cause. A few of these include:
- Oral appliances are an excellent solution for patients who grind their teeth, or suffer from misalignment that strains the joint. Appliances may be used to reposition the jaw, prevent compressing the disc, or interrupt the painful nerve signals. They may be used for quick relief, until procedures such as bite reconstruction can be completed, or long-term solutions.
- Bite reconstruction may be necessary when the occlusal force (biting pressure) is imbalanced. Misshapen teeth, damaged teeth, or old, poor quality dental work can cause one side of the jaw to absorb the entire impact of biting down or chewing.
- Orthodontic treatment can help when the problem is caused by misalignment.
- Simple changes in habits, such as avoiding chewing gum and choosing softer foods, can lessen the symptoms.
- Analgesics, biologics, or other medication may help bring relief when the condition is caused by degenerative disease. Dr. Mungcal will work with your primary physician, rheumatologist, and other health care providers to deliver customized, coordinated care.
If you have concerns about TMJ disorder, call Downtown Dental at 213-863-9464 and schedule an appointment today.