TMJ Treatment in La Jolla, CA

What is TMJ Disorder?

Many people who experience frequent headaches are less likely to associate their pain with their jaw. Rather, they’ll seek medical treatment for migraines or resort to over-the-counter painkillers that only mask the symptoms. In addition to headaches, neck and shoulder pain, as well as ringing in the ears, are usually thought to be the result of a poor night’s sleep when in reality, it’s the result of a bigger problem. TMJ disorder is very frequently misdiagnosed because its symptoms are generally associated with another more common condition. However, once TMJ is diagnosed, you can receive treatment that targets the cause of the problem and alleviates all of your discomforts. When you are experiencing chronic pain on and around your face, it’s time that you visit La Jolla Cosmetic Dentistry & Orthodontics in San Diego where Dr. Kohani can perform diagnostic testing and determine the best treatment option for the pain you are experiencing.

TMJ Treatment Diagram

What Is TMJ Disorder and Why Is It a Problem?

TMJ is in reference to the temporomandibular joint, which connects your upper and lower jaw to your skull at the front of each ear. Although the joint and its function may hardly ever cross your mind, the temporomandibular joint is actually one of the most important aspects of the maxillofacial structure. Whenever you open your mouth to talk, chew, yawn or laugh, your temporomanibular joint is in full swing. Anytime you want to move your jaw up or down or side to side, you will need your temporomandibular joint to do so.

Problems with the temporomandibular joint can arise for a number of reasons and are usually associated with pain around the joint from being overworked. We refer to this pain at a TMJ disorder since the temporomandibular joint is directly involved. Experts are not aware of the exact causes of TMJ, but there are multiple factors that could contribute to the disorder, like head or neck trauma, bruxism, arthritis, stress and a poor bite position. Each of these issues can cause pain that radiates from the joint throughout the rest of the face, neck and shoulders.

Symptoms of TMJ disorder include:

  • Pain while trying to open the mouth or while chewing food
  • Tension near the neck and shoulders
  • Clicking or popping sounds that occur when you open your mouth
  • A sudden uncomfortable bite position
  • Swelling on your face
  • A jaw that becomes stuck in a certain position
  • Frequent headaches or toothaches
  • Dizziness or ringing in the ears

TMJ Symptoms Diagram

Do You Have TMJ? A Consultation Could Help You

Because the symptoms of TMJ are so commonly associated with other conditions, it’s important to receive a professional diagnosis from Dr. Kohani. During a consultation at La Jolla Cosmetic Dentistry & Orthodontics, he will perform a dental examination, take x-rays using a 3D digital CT scan and talk to you about the symptoms you are experiencing. He may also examine your jaw specifically to pinpoint any pain or popping sounds as well as take a look at your muscles to see if they are working properly. The goal is to rule out any other underlying condition that could be causing a problem, and once Dr. Kohani has done that, he can move on to treating your TMJ disorder.

Additional Treatment with BOTOX

Many patients believe that surgery is their only option when it comes to TMJ, but Dr. Kohani understands that not everyone wants to undergo invasive procedures in order to get the care they need. To treat TMJ, Dr. Kohani aims to retrain the muscles so that they properly align with the jaw when it is at rest. He may do this by creating a nightguard that fits onto the teeth in order to keep them from clenching or perform minimally invasive dental work, such as a dental bridge, crowns or dental implants, that improve your bite alignment. In addition to restorative dental work and correcting your bite alignment, Dr. Kohani also uses BOTOX injections to alleviate jaw tension. BOTOX acts as a temporary muscle relaxant that keeps the muscles from contracting and causing discomfort.

The injections are typically administered into the temporalis, frontal and masseter muscles in order to improve the symptoms associated with TMJ. The injections take no more that 30 minutes to receive, will last for roughly six months and can be performed right in Dr. Kohani’s office. Combining BOTOX treatment with other corrective measures creates optimal results in patients who have TMJ and does not affect any surrounding muscles that are not associated with the condition.

TMJ disorder comes in many different forms and occurs for a variety of reasons, which is why it it is important to receive a diagnosis at the first sign of jaw pain. If you think you are experiencing symptoms associated with TMJ, contact La Jolla Cosmetic Dentistry & Orthodontics at 858-295-0603 and schedule a consultation with Dr. Kohani.

Frequently Asked Questions About TMJ Treatment

TMJ can be caused by many things, including injury or trauma to the jaw, which has resulted in the joint ligaments becoming stretched or the articular disc becoming displaced. TMJ can also be caused by arthritic conditions or stress-induced jaw clenching. In addition, some people clench or grind their teeth while sleeping, causing TMJ problems.

Hormones may also play a part, as the condition is most common in women aged 30 to 50.

Dr. Kohanit will listen to the patient’s description of their symptoms and perform a thorough dental examination. Patients may also be given a clinical examination to check for other problems in their jaw, face, neck, shoulders, or head. Some patients also require an imaging study such as an x-ray, radiographs, an MRT scan, or a CT scan. This will provide detailed images of what’s going on with the bones in the jaw.

Many people who suffer from jaw problems, in particular, TMJ, often complain of headaches. This is because the condition creates tension as the temporal muscle is implicated.

The temporal muscle runs from the top of the skull, down the side of the face to the jaw. Many patients clench their jaw or grind their teeth without realizing they are doing it. It’s common to do these activities in your sleep without realizing it, making the temporalis muscle become overactive. This leads to pain, discomfort, and tension in the temples.

Medical professionals often refer to these types of headaches as either ‘tension headaches’ or ‘muscle contraction’ headaches. Sufferers report that a tension headache feels like their head is being held with a vice. You may also feel a dull or achy pain or regularly experience throbbing headaches.

If you are frequently waking up in the morning with a headache, it may be due to teeth grinding and clenching during the night. TMJ treatment has been designed to reduce jaw clenching and teeth grinding.

Having a clicking jaw isn’t automatically cause for concern. However, it’s worth having your jaw and teeth looked at by a dentist. You may be surprised to learn that between 30 to 50 percent of people have a clicking jaw.

Treatment isn’t usually necessary unless you also have jaw pain and other symptoms that would indicate TMJ disorder.

There are many different types of splints designs available and other ways to treat TMJ disorder. Some splints may aggravate the condition or change your bite. It may be that your symptoms get worse over the short term before they get better, as the splint may have changed the position of your jaw slightly. If you are worried about your symptoms or are suffering from severe pain, you should see your dentist as soon as possible.

Jaw splint therapy works best in conjunction with other treatments. You may like to consider BOTOX® injections to help loosen the facial muscles. It’s also a good idea to become aware of jaw habits and try to correct these. For example, you may be clenching your teeth during the day.

Certain musicians are more prone to developing TMJ, particularly those who play the violin or a wind instrument. This is due to tensing the muscles in the jaw and face for long periods.

TMJ disorder comes in many different forms and occurs for a variety of reasons, so it is important to receive a diagnosis at the first sign of jaw pain. If you think you are experiencing symptoms associated with TMJ, contact La Jolla Cosmetic Dentistry & Orthodontics at 858-295-0603 and schedule a consultation with Dr. Kohani.