TMJ Treatment Chapel Hill, NC

TMJ Treatment An Overview

Dr. Sarah Cook can address the symptoms of a TMJ disorder with a range of conservative treatment options tailored to your specific oral health needs. TMJ disorders are often the underlying cause of a range of symptoms that can impact your daily quality of life and compromise the long-term integrity of your smile. The goal of your treatment is to identify the dysfunction in your bite and reduce muscle tension in the jaw with appropriate care that enables the teeth to make proper contact and reduces teeth grinding or jaw clenching.

What Causes TMJ?

“TMJ” is the common term for a range of symptoms that are the result of an imbalance in the function of the temporomandibular joint. This joint connects the temporal bone of the skull and the lower mandible of the jaw. It supports chewing and speaking, powered by the masticatory muscles. If there is damage to the joint or tension in the muscles, this makes it more difficult to chew and speak comfortably and can also lead to painful symptoms including chronic headaches.

There are many reasons for dysfunction in the bite, from a genetic structural defect in the jaw to trauma and even stress. The majority of patients with a TMJ or bite related disorder also grind their teeth, which increases muscle tension and associated discomfort in the head, neck and jaw area.

Dr. Cook will meet with you to examine all aspects of your smile and discuss your overall medical history as part of diagnostics for treatment planning.

TMJ Treatment What to Expect

The first step in finding the right treatment for a TMJ disorder is to use digital diagnostics, an exam, and a discussion of your overall physical health and lifestyle in an effort to identify the underlying factors affecting the function of your bite.

Treating A TMJ Disorder

The most conservative and often initial line of treatment is to prescribe a nightguard. Custom made, a nightguard fits like a sports mouth guard and is designed to reposition the jaw so that it can rest in a natural position. This will prevent teeth grinding and reduce tension in the jaw muscles over time. For many patients, the nightly use of thersleep appliance can significantly minimize their discomfort or recurring headaches.

Other possible treatment options can include:

  • Restorative dentistry: if teeth have been damaged by teeth grinding or need reshaping for proper alignment, tooth bonding or dental crowns may be recommended.
  • Orthodontics: malocclusion is often an underlying factor that can be addressed with orthodontic treatment. Dr. Cook can refer you to a local orthodontist for care as needed.