Los Angeles patients seeking quality oral health services and treatment are welcome to contact the team of Downtown Dental. Dr. Don Mungcal and his staff are committed to helping patients achieve beautiful, healthy smiles—and smiles that do not impact their quality of life. When conditions such as TMJ disorder (TMD) become an issue, patients need to start working with a professional who can provide solutions.
TMJ is short for “temporomandibular joint.” This is the jaw joint that is used to hinge the lower jaw to the skull, so it can open and close for eating and speaking. There are times when patients may experience dysfunction of this joint and the surrounding muscles. This can result in issues such as:
When these issues occur, it is essential that patients get a proper diagnosis to discuss treatment. The chronic problems may indicate TMD, or temporomandibular disorder. This is a constant or permanent malfunction of the joint and muscles that contribute to an ongoing problem for patients — and treatment options need to be seriously discussed with a professional.
TMJ/TMD does not have a specific cause. It is not known to be genetic or be linked to any specific condition that may increase one’s risk of experiencing it. However, thanks to proper diagnosis, patients can speak to their dentist about treatment options to control the condition and reduce pain and discomfort. This will improve a patient’s overall quality of life.
Treatment for TMD typically starts with oral appliance therapy. This is the use of a specialized mouth guard made for a patient to wear during the night or day to help align the jaw and reduce the pressure that can be caused from the condition. Pressure and tightness can cause the muscles to become fatigued and painful. While wearing the oral appliance, this can greatly reduce pain and discomfort. This can be done in conjunction with neuromuscular exercises that help strengthen the muscles around the jaw and reduce the chances of associated problems. In very severe cases, patients may be referred to a specialist who can provide jaw surgery if the problem cannot be resolved with the use of oral appliance therapy and neuromuscular exercises.
The discomfort caused by this condition can become chronic and troublesome. It can be difficult for patients to get through the day without pain or experiencing jaws locking. This can greatly reduce their quality of life, causing patients to live with pain and discomfort. Instead, with treatment, patients can reduce or eliminate the need for pain relievers to mask the problem. Patients who treat TMJ/TMD may also enjoy the benefits of stronger, healthier teeth. This is because many patients who have the condition also have bruxism – clenching and grinding of the teeth. When this happens, it can wear down the natural enamel on the teeth and permanently damage them. Additionally, patients who have restorations such as bridges or crowns may notice their restorations are constantly breaking or cracking and require replacement. This is sometimes an indication that bruxism exists, and a dentist such as Dr. Don Mungcal will be able to notice when this is becoming a chronic problem. With proper treatment, patients can maintain their smile and enjoy comfort every day.
Oral appliance therapy has a high success rate, but there are patients who may still require jaw surgery or even orthodontic treatment to align the jaw and permanently treat the condition.
Call our practice to learn more about the advantages of diagnosis and treatment of TMJ/TMD for improved quality of life. Our front office team can be reached to make an appointment by calling 213-863-9464 and our practice, Downtown Dental, is conveniently located at 55 South Grand Avenue, Ste. 204.
Dr. Don Mungcal
Dr. Tara Mavadat
Dr. Ivan Chan