Schedule a Consultation with Dr. Cavendish, Our TMJ Dentist
Disorders involving your temporomandibular joints (TMJ) make it difficult to chew, speak, and even open or close your mouth. Found on either side of your head, these joints control your jaw muscles and ligaments, making forward, backward, and side-to-side movement possible. When you have a TMJ disorder, you may experience maximum discomfort. For those seeking effective TMJ treatments in Phoenix, AZ, a consultation with Dr. Matthew J. Cavendish, DDS, PLLC may be the solution. Below, you’ll find the answers to the questions we’re most often asked by patients looking for TMJ relief. Alleviate your pain by scheduling an appointment with our experienced TMJ dentist. We treat patients of all ages!
What Is a TMJ Disorder? What Are Common TMJ Causes?
Your temporomandibular joints are connected to your skull and jawbone and are some of the most sensitive joints found in the human body. Muscles, ligaments, discs, and bones work in tandem to control the movement of your jaw. When something impedes jaw movement, it results in a painful TMJ disorder characterized by swelling and discomfort. Temporomandibular joint disorders are commonly caused by injuries, dislocations, stress from teeth grinding, orthodontics issues, tooth and jaw misalignments, and rheumatoid arthritis. Chronic gum chewing, bad posture, nail-biting, ill-fitting dental crowns or dentures, and genetics may also play a significant role. People between the ages of 20 and 40 are most likely to develop TMJ disorders, with women being about four times more likely than men to develop this painful condition.
What Are the Most Common TMJ Symptoms?
TMJ symptoms typically affect your jaw, face, ears, neck, shoulders, and upper body. Signs to watch for include the following, although symptoms will vary from patient to patient:
- Facial pain or tenderness
- Chronic headaches or earaches
- Severe migraines
- Limited jaw mobility
- Locked jaw
- Jaw clicking or popping noises
- Neck, shoulder, or upper body pain
- Muscle spasms
- Jaw stiffness or tension
- Sore jaw muscles
- Ringing or popping noises in your ears
- Painful chewing, yawning, or speaking
What Happens If I Ignore TMJ Symptoms?
You shouldn’t ignore TMJ symptoms, as they’re likely to worsen over time and lead to further oral complications. Many people begin TMJ treatment using self-care and home remedies, which may not be the most effective treatment method. Home remedies may include applying hot or cold packs to your jaw, eating softer foods, or practicing aromatherapy or relaxation techniques such as a TMJ massage.
How Are TMJ Disorders Usually Diagnosed?
Because TMJ disorders have so many symptoms often linked to other injuries and conditions, it can be difficult to diagnose them. Diagnosis should be provided by a well-qualified TMJ dentist, such as Dr. Cavendish. Diagnosis usually requires a thorough oral examination and x-rays. Our dentist will check around your temporomandibular joints for signs of tenderness, limited mobility, or popping noises during your exam. You needn’t have anxiety about visiting our dentist. We maintain a positive, family-like atmosphere with a welcoming reception. We do our best to keep patients comfortable during exams and treatments with pillows, headphones, and even sedation options to relieve dental anxiety.
What Are the Most Effective TMJ Treatments?
While you may wish to explore home remedies, sometimes medical treatment is necessary for a TMJ disorder. These are the most common and effective TMJ treatments recommended by experts:
- Physiotherapy – Physiotherapy, or special TMJ exercises, may be used to strengthen your jaw muscles. Sample TMJ exercises may include placing your tongue on your mouth’s roof while learning to open your mouth without moving your tongue or pushing down on your lower teeth with one of your hands while simultaneously pushing upward with your jaw muscles. Our team would be happy to demonstrate proper jaw exercise techniques during your appointment.
- Splint Therapy – We may suggest custom-fitting you with a TMJ mouth guard to wear over your teeth to prevent excessive grinding or clenching. By wearing your bite splint or mouth guard at night, you can relieve tension and stress in your jaw. Bite splints aren’t meant to be worn longer than six months. Because mouth guard overuse can lead to other dental complications, our team will carefully monitor your treatment progress.
- Pain Medications – We may prescribe pain relief medications, including analgesics or anti-inflammatory medications, to alleviate your TMJ symptoms. Muscle relaxants may also be helpful in relieving overstressed jaw muscles. Because TMJ pain is a medical issue just as much as it is a dental one, we may be able to bill your medical insurance.
- Dental Lasers – Dedicated to being at the forefront of technology, Dr. Cavendish also uses a dental laser to help decrease inflammation, pain, and discomfort around your jaw muscles. You’ll be kept comfortable during treatment with minimal downtime and stimulated healing.
- Joint Replacement Surgery – In extreme cases, TMJ surgery is necessary to replace your temporomandibular joints, reshape your teeth, or adjust an uneven bite. Performed by qualified oral surgeons, TMJ surgery is typically the last line of defense for TMJ disorders. Our dental team prefers to treat TMJ with minimally-invasive options whenever possible, which is also preferred by most of our patients.
What Are the Benefits of TMJ Mouth Guards?
There are several known benefits of wearing a TMJ mouth guard. They decrease the amount of contact between your upper and lower teeth to reduce the effects of teeth grinding and clenching. They allow your jaw to rest at night, which helps your muscles relax and eases tension. Wearing a mouth guard can help you prevent injury and damage, ranging from chipped teeth to lost fillings and excessive wear and tear. Although you can purchase over-the-counter mouth guards from your nearest retailer, getting a custom-fit mouth guard from your dentist is in your best interest. You’ll find custom mouth guards are more comfortable to wear and are better for your long-term oral health. Ill-fitting “one size fits all” mouth guards can make oral complications like TMJ disorders worse over time.
Do Braces or Sleep Apnea Devices Prevent TMJ Treatment?
No, many of our patients receive TMJ treatments and orthodontic care at the same time. While you shouldn’t try to self-treat a TMJ disorder with your sleep apnea device, we may recommend combining various treatments for the most effective plan. We always customize our TMJ treatments, not to mention the rest of our dental services, to suit each patient’s individual needs.
Does TMJ Pain Only Affect Adults, or Can It Impact Children?
While most patients we see with TMJ pain are between the ages of 20 and 40, TMJ disorders can affect children. Prevention techniques and proper diagnosis are your best line of defense, no matter your age.
Can TMJ Pain Return After Successful TMJ Treatments?
While we wish we could say your TMJ pain will never return after you seek TMJ treatment from our dental practice, we believe in being honest with our patients. Because your jaw joints and muscles are under constant stress and usage, TMJ pain may return at any time. However, our experienced TMJ dentist can give you helpful tips to minimize your risk and improve your oral health. Sometimes making lifestyle changes, including incorporating relaxation techniques and TMJ exercises, refraining from chewing on pens or your nails, and eating a well-balanced diet of softer foods can help you keep this painful disorder at bay. We can help you manage this condition in the short- or long-term.
Does Dental Insurance Typically Cover TMJ Treatments?
It depends on your insurance provider and specific dental insurance plan. Because TMJ disorder is a medical issue just as much as a dental one, you may wish to check with both your medical insurance provider and your dental insurance provider when seeking TMJ treatment. Dr. Cavendish’s office accepts most major dental insurance plans, including Aetna, Cigna, and Delta Dental. We also offer financing options through CareCredit, which may be no-interest or low-interest to make treatment affordable.
Do I Need a Referral for Your TMJ Dentist in Phoenix, AZ?
Absolutely not. Dr. Matthew J. Cavendish, DDS, PLLC accepts new patients in the Phoenix, AZ area. We encourage you to download our new patient forms before your first appointment. You may also wish to view our testimonials to see what kind of treatment you can expect from our compassionate, experienced TMJ dentist and the rest of our staff. Contact us today via phone or email to set up a consultation to alleviate your TMJ pain and discomfort.