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TMJ Diagnosis & Treatment

Dr. John Halmaghi, Headache & TMJ Expert

Dr. Halmaghi recently moved his Southfield TMJ and Headache treatment office and has reopened in Bloomfield Hills as the Michigan Headache and Facial Pain Institute. Dr. Halmaghi’s long history of successful headache and migraine treatment is well documented, and his many happy patients have been able to resume a normal life after completing his customized, comprehensive headache treatment created for their unique cases. If you are suffering from migraines and headaches, you may be able to self-diagnose your problem. To learn more about migraines, headaches, TMJ & more, continue reading, watch Dr. Halmaghi’s free informational video, or just give us a call at 248-292-3362!

 

What is TMJ?

TMJ is an abbreviation that stands for temporomandibular joint. This is the joint which connects the jaw to the rest of the skull, located just below the ear. TMJ disorders, often referred to as simply “TMJ,” are localized pain disorders that can occur when the jaw joint is injured, misaligned, or damaged.

Imbalances to the joint connecting the jaw and skull can be caused by any number of things, and we’ll go over a few below. Whatever the cause, these joint imbalances can lead to pain in the head, jaw, neck, and ears as well as frequent headaches/migraines. There are also several less common symptoms of a TMJ disorder, like a ringing in the ears or persistent nausea. If a TMJ disorder goes untreated, it can cause great amounts of pain and discomfort for the patient. If you are experiencing symptoms that are impacting your daily life, it’s time to get treatment.

 

TMJ Symptoms

Some of the most common and telling signs of a TMJ disorder are symptoms such as:

  • Pain in the jaw joint itself
  • Clicking and popping of the jaw as it opens and closes
  • Earaches
  • Frequent headaches or migraines

In addition to these common TMJ symptoms, some patients also suffer from the following symptoms:

Chronic neck and shoulder pain

The neck and shoulders can often be negatively affected by a TMJ disorder. It may not seem obvious, but your neck and shoulders work in tandem with your jaw. If one is out of alignment, the others will be too. Physical therapy may work temporarily, but in order to achieve a more permanent solution, all working parts must be taken into consideration.

Sinus infections and sore throats

Much like the neck and shoulders, sinuses are also very interconnected with the jaw. In fact, the muscles of the jaw are attached directly to the sinuses. This is why, even if you don’t have headaches or other symptoms, an imbalanced jaw due to TMJ can lead to sinus issues.

Difficulty becoming numb for dental procedures

In some cases, a misaligned jaw from a TMJ disorder can end up pinching nerves in the jaw joint. Pinched nerves in this area could lead to complication during dental procedures such as an inability to be numbed properly. If you have experienced unusual issues related to numbing during or after a dental procedure, it could be related to pinched nerves from a TMJ disorder.

Sleep Apnea

If you are experiencing fatigue during the day, or if you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea, there’s a possibility that this issue has manifested as a result of TMJ. A misaligned jaw can often lead to restricted breathing while sleeping. If you’re having fatigue problems due to snoring, difficulty breathing at night, asthma, or sleep apnea, consult your dentist to find out if you have a constricted airway.

 

TMJ Causes

There are many different causes of TMJ. Some of the likeliest causes are:

Teeth Grinding

Teeth grinding is the most likely cause as if affects a very large segment of the population and is frequently associated with TMJ disorders. Teeth grinding can occur at any time, but most sufferers clench or grind their teeth at night while they sleep without even realizing it. As the teeth become worn down from constant grinding and/or clenching, so do the joints. The teeth can also lose their ability to properly support and balance the jaw when they are worn down. These factors make it a common TMJ cause.

A history of accidents or trauma

Accidents and trauma such as whiplash can sometimes cause TMJ dysfunction. Often, the symptoms are not felt for months or even years, so if you have experienced head or neck trauma at any point in your lifetime, it could be the cause of your migraines or jaw pain.

Overbite

An overbite is a common cause of TMJ disorders and their related symptoms. Patients with an overbite have a 65% chance of experiencing headaches, migraines, jaw pain, and earaches. With an overbite, the teeth are unable to properly hold the jaws in position and pain sets in slowly over time. Fortunately, an overbite can be easily diagnosed by a dentist and treated with the appropriate orthodontic procedures.

Ill-fitting Dentures

Losing your natural teeth also means losing the original support that came with them. While dentures can be a great solution for many people who are losing their teeth, they could also lead to problems like a TMJ disorder if they are not fitted correctly. Denture wearers are predisposed to wearing down their joints because it is practically impossible to support the jaws in the exact right position. For certain individuals, dentures may not be stable enough to provide adequate jaw-to-jaw relationships. If you are experiencing jaw pain while wearing dentures, call us and we will either refit them to correct the issue or suggest another option like dental implants to find the proper stabilization that your jaw needs in order to prevent any a TMJ disorder.

A history of reconstructive dental/orthodontic work

Changing the size and shape of one’s teeth can improve their visual appearance, but, if done poorly, it can also cause an abnormal bite. Make sure you receive any cosmetic dentistry procedures from a fully licensed and qualified dentist office. If you receive too many cosmetic dental procedures, or don’t receive them from a reputable dentist, you could end up with an altered bite that could lead to a TMJ disorder and other problematic symptoms.

 

TMJ Treatment

Treatments for TMJ are not a one-size-fits-all situation. Generally, TMJ treatments require a combination of various methods that we provide. There are many internationally-used theories and treatment protocols for headache therapy and for TMJ. Once we have given a patient their proper diagnosis, we are able to give them pain relief and therapy.

Some of our appliance-based treatment methods include:

NTI Technology

An NTI device is a mouthguard used to prevent grinding of the teeth. It’s normally used for the beginning stages of treatment for cases of moderate pain, and is usually very effective. By our clinical observation, It has been shown to help about 50% of migraine sufferers when fitted properly. However, if improperly adjusted, an NTI device could cause more pain. If you have this device and it is not providing pain relief, consult us to find out if it needs to be refitted or if your condition warrants more advanced care.

Lower Splints

After wearing an NTI device for a period of time, patients can work up to the lower splint. Splints used for TMJ are dental appliances that go over the teeth and keep your teeth separated. These help by taking some pressure off of the teeth and jaws, and they can also deter grinding. A lower splint is often the most effective appliance to correct jaw imbalances and cure even the worst headache and migraine sufferers.

Want more information? Fill out a contact form on Dr. Halmaghi’s site to ask him a question or call his office at 248-292-3362.

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