treatment of TMD and TMJ syndrome

The Advanced Non-Surgical Approach
To Elimination of Headaches, Clicking
& Popping of Jaw

TMD, or temporomandibular joint disorder, affects millions of Australians each year, yet surprisingly few people have heard of this common condition. You could have temporomandibular dysfunction or issues with your temporomandibular joint (TMJ) if normal daily activities, such as talking and chewing, are becoming increasingly difficult or painful.

If you suspect that you may be suffering from TMD, the first step is to obtain a diagnosis. Our experienced and knowledgeable dental team in Southport on the Gold Coast are able to provide prompt, accurate diagnosis of the condition so that treatment can begin as quickly as possible.

No insurance? No Worries!

The ArtSmiles Club is a great solution for those who do not have Private Dental Insurance. It allows uninsured individuals and families to gain access to routine preventive care and emergency exams at no extra cost and additional services at a reduced cost (Up to 30% off).

No insurance? No Worries!

The ArtSmiles Club is a great solution for those who do not have Private Dental Insurance. It allows uninsured individuals and families to gain access to routine preventive care and emergency exams at no extra cost and additional services at a reduced cost (Up to 30% off).

Schedule a complimentary consultation now

or call us on (07) 5588 3677



What is TMJ Syndrome?

TMJ Syndrome Treatment with ArtSmiles Southport Dental Clinic

Temporomandibular Joint disorders are a family of problems that affect the joints, muscles and nerves that allows your mouth to open and close and move side to side smoothly (the movement of the jaw). If you are experiencing discomfort, tightness, pain, clicking or snapping sounds in your jaw, or other symptoms, you may have a TMJ disorder (TMD).

southport dental clinic

Temporomandibular Joint disorders are a family of problems that affect the joints, muscles and nerves that allows your mouth to open and close and move side to side smoothly (the movement of the jaw). If you are experiencing discomfort, tightness, pain, clicking or snapping sounds in your jaw, or other symptoms, you may have a TMJ disorder (TMD).



Causes of TMJ Disorders/TMD

There are many reasons that people develop TMJ disorders, pain in the jaw and associated muscles, including genetics, arthritis, teeth grinding or clenching, or an injury to the jaw bone.              
Some of the most common causes of TMD include:
  • Bruxism, a condition that is characterised by subconscious or unconscious clenching or grinding of teeth. Bruxism also leads to a range of other problems including tooth damage, enamel erosion, persistent headaches, and poor quality sleep.   
  • An uneven bite, which is where the teeth do not come together perfectly when closed.
  • Suffering from osteoarthritis, a condition that is defined by the inflammation and degeneration of joints in the body including the TMJ.
  • Traumatic injury to the neck, face or head.
  • Persistent or high levels of stress. This is because people who are stressed are more likely to subconsciously clench or tighten their muscles.                         
 Regardless of the cause of your TMJ disorder, treating jaw issues early is the best way to prevent future discomfort and complications.



Symptoms of TMJ Disorders/TMD

Recognising that you are experiencing temporomandibular joint disorder isn’t always as easy as you might think. This is because a lot of the symptoms are mild and easily overlooked. However, eventually they will become impossible to ignore and include:
  • Soreness or stiffness around the jaws, teeth or neck
  • Frequent headaches or migraines
  • Sinus and facial pressure                                                    
  • A clicking, popping or grating sound when opening and closing the mouth
  • Clenching or grinding of the teeth during sleep
  • Pain when opening the jaw, chewing, biting into certain foods biting or yawning.
  • Locking of your jaw joints, which can affect your ability to open and close your mouth
  • Jaws that snap open or shut (because of a general sense of tightness)
  • Persistent earaches or tinnitus
  • Ringing or sense of fullness in one or both ears
  • A history of arthritis                                                    
  • Sensitive or worn down teeth                     
In some cases TMJ can cause internal movement of the joints, resulting in displaced discs, dislocation of the jaw, or damage to the underlying bone. Typically, TMJ tends to affect women more commonly than men.
If you experience any of the symptoms listed above, you could be suffering from TMD and should arrange to be assessed by our team.



Diagnosis and Treatment

If you suspect that you may be suffering from TMD, the first step is to obtain a diagnosis. Our experienced and knowledgeable dental team are able to provide prompt, accurate diagnosis of the condition so that treatment can begin as quickly as possible.

Dr. Cristian Dunker will perform a physical examination to examine the head, neck, face, and temporomandibular joints to check for pain and tenderness, sounds including clicking or crackling, healthy range of motion in the lower jaw, pain tolerance, teeth alignment and movement, and facial bone deformity. Based on the assessment, Dr. Dunker will create a treatment plan.

An accurate diagnosis is critical for successful treatment. Most problems, whether muscular or within the joint, get better over time. For this reason, most experts agree that it’s best to use conservative treatment at first. But in some instances, surgery or other procedures may be recommended as a first treatment.

Treatment can vary depending on the extent and cause of your TMJ issues. In general, the best treatments are a combination of self-care techniques and professional help. Because TMJ disorders can be extremely painful, Dr. Cristian Dunker’s first priority is symptom relief, particularly any swelling and pain. Once your symptoms are reduced, he works on treating the condition itself.

Self-care will also help manage and relieve pain. Some of the most effective self-care techniques you can use include:
    • Improving your posture (sitting up straight, not slouching, etc.)
    • Resting your jaw by keeping teeth apart when not in use
    • Using a mouth guard at night to prevent clenching
    • Stress management techniques
    • Doing exercises to stretch your jaw
    • Avoiding very hard and chewy foods for a while
    • Using hot/cold compresses

Dr. Cristian Dunker may recommend gentle, combination treatment with anti-inflammatories, pain relievers, muscle relaxers, biofeedback, stress management, or using a splint or mouth guard to prevent the teeth from grinding together and reduce the harmful effects of grinding and clenching to relieve pressure in the mouth. Orthodontics and jaw surgery are also options to consider when nonsurgical treatments do not effectively control your symptoms.

Orthodontic treatment typically takes the form of either conventional braces or clear aligners. These solutions gradually shift the position of the jaw and teeth so that they come together much more accurately, often reducing the effects of TMD. Bite realignment surgery is a fairly straightforward procedure, carried out under anaesthetic, that works to improve the way that your teeth meet when you close your jaw.

Your treatment for TMJ disorder may include one or more of the following:

We may teach you a series of exercises that you can do to help relieve some of your symptoms, if not all of your symptoms.

When one or more teeth are missing, other teeth shift in the mouth, altering your bite. (how your lower teeth and upper teeth fit together) As a result, the joint is altered and becomes unbalanced.

Crowns, bridges, and/or orthodontic treatment may be needed to adjust how your upper and lower teeth come together. If your teeth do not come together properly when your mouth is closed or when you chew, the joint can’t function properly.

An Orthotic Appliance, is custom designed for each patient to keep a person from clenching their teeth. Clenching causes muscle tension and stress on the joint. An Orthotic Appliance can also be designed to move the jaw and muscles into their correct position.

These are used to reduce swelling, relax the muscles, and relieve discomfort.

Neuromuscular dentistry refers to techniques used to move the jaw, muscle tissue, soft tissue, and fatty tissue of the face and joint back into their correct position, relieving symptoms and correcting TMJ disorders.

Surgery is reserved for extreme cases of a TMJ disorder and is usually only recommended as a last resort when all other treatment options have failed or when surgery is the only option available to correct the disorder.

Other forms of treatment include the use of massage therapy to relieve stress and loosen tight muscles. Relaxation therapy and lifestyle changes may also be recommended. Treatment can also include the breaking of habits, such as excessive gum chewing, nail biting, or biting on a pen that lead to the development of TMJ disorders.


Bruxism

What is bruxism? 

Excessive grinding and clenching are known as ‘bruxism’, and this generally occurs during sleep. Bruxism can worsen over time if it is left untreated, and it can lead to additional problems with tooth pain, alignment and oral damage.  

Jaw clenching and teeth grinding can be caused by emotional issues, such as anxiety, stress and anger, stimulant drug use, dehydration, poor tooth alignment, sleep disorders, and sickness. Some people suffer from bruxism due to their antidepressants – if this is your case, your doctor may be able to prescribe an alternate medication.   

 

Signs and symptoms

The signs of bruxism include:

 • Headaches, jaw and ear pain

 • Aching teeth

 • Stiffness of the face and temples

 • Tooth indentations on the tongue and inside the gums

 • Increased tooth sensitivity  

 

Treatment:

The treatment for Bruxism begins with an extensive oral health examination. This way, we can adequately determine what may be causing your bruxism and design a custom treatment plan that will suit your lifestyle and the severity of your condition.

The most common treatment option is a custom-made oral appliance that fits directly onto your teeth. These devices relieve pressure on the TMJs and prevent the upper and lower teeth from making contact. Mouthguards can also prevent tooth sensitivity and bite problems. 

 

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Frequently asked questions

The temporomandibular joint is located at the base of the skull in front of the ear structure and connects the lower jaw (mandible) with the upper jaw (maxilla).

Unlike most joints located in the body, the TMJ is unique in its structure, composed of a rounded protrusion of the mandible that sits against an indentation in the skull, and a disc-like structure made of a soft bone called cartilage found in between the two bones (articular disc).

These three parts of the TMJ are held together by ligaments originating from different parts of the head and neck to support the jaw and guide its movements. Several muscles are connected to those ligaments, and many aid in the motion of the lower jaw.

The TMJ works in two ways to open your mouth: The first way is like a hinge to simply open and close the mouth, just like a hinge on a door. The second way is a sliding motion called translation, wherein your lower jaw moves down and forward. This motion helps the TMJ to move backward and forward and from side to side for actions such as eating, yawning and singing – some of the most common.

Like any other joint in the body, the TMJ can be fractured, swell and become sore, causing limited movement of the lower jaw and pain radiating to the head and neck area.

A fracture to the actual articular disc is rare, but it can be displaced, causing severe pain and swelling.

Unlike other joints such as knees and hips, arthritis of the TMJ is very rare, and hard to treat with anti-inflammatory drugs alone. Nonetheless, pain in the TMJ is often temporary, and can be treated with a combination of ice then heat to relieve the sore ligaments and muscles surrounding the joint.
Find relief from TMJ disorder today by scheduling an appointment with Dr. Cristian Dunker. You can call the office directly, or book your visit using the convenient online tool.

It is believed up to 70% of the population have some form of TMJ Dysfunction. The Temporomandibular joint provides a wide range of movement and a number of short-term and long-term factors can lead to it becoming misaligned. Many people may only have mild or temporary discomfort. However, up to 12% of people are known to have ongoing or chronic pain which will only be relieved if the jaw is realigned properly and steps taken to prevent it becoming misaligned in future.

There are several risk factors for TMD: Poor posture in the neck and upper back muscles may lead to neck strain and abnormalities of jaw muscle function. Stress may increase muscle tension and jaw clenching. Patients with other chronic inflammatory arthritis have increased risk. People with jaw trauma or poorly positioned teeth have increased risk. People who have a genetic predisposition to pain sensitivity and increased stress responses may be more susceptible.

TMJ may appear in the healthy individuals, but some sensory, psychological and psychological factors put someone at risk of suffering TMJ pain:

• Gender: women are at high risk of suffering TMJ syndrome. There is also a difference in how men or women respond to pain medications.
 Age: women who are between 18-44 are at a high risk of suffering TMJ 
 Pain tolerance: the studies had suggested that people who are more sensitive to the pain, they are at risk of suffering TMJ syndrome.

Are you aware of grinding or clenching your teeth?
Do you wake up with sore, stiff muscles around your jaws?
Do you have frequent headaches or neck aches?
Does the pain get worse when you clench your teeth?
Does stress make your clenching and pain worse?
Does your jaw click, pop, grate, catch, or lock when you open your mouth?
Is it difficult or painful to open your mouth, eat, or yawn?
Have you ever injured your neck, head, or jaws?
Have you had problems (such as arthritis) with other joints?
Do you have teeth that no longer touch when you bite?
Do your teeth meet differently from time to time?
Is it hard to use your front teeth to bite or tear food?
Are your teeth sensitive, loose, broken or worn?


The more times you answered “yes”, the more likely it is that you have a TMJ disorder. Understanding TMJ disorders will also help you understand how they are treated.

Stress is considered to be a cause of TMJ. Stress can cause many physical symptoms, TMJ pain being one of them. Stress can also cause teeth clenching and grinding, which are known to cause TMJ as well. TMJ, stress, and anxiety may all cause similar symptoms, sometimes making a diagnosis challenging.

Teeth grinding, or bruxing, places pressure on the muscles, tissues and supporting structures of the jaw, causing pain and joint dysfunction.

When you suffer the pain into the jaw or over the chewing muscle on occasion, it may not be a reason for concern. However, you need to see your dentist if the pain is too severe or if it refuses to go away.

Surgical treatment is considered only after all other conservative treatment options have been exhausted.

While TMJ Dysfunction is not life-threatening, it certainly impacts the quality of life. Persistent headaches and jaw, neck or ear pain can disrupt daily life and turn people towards pain relieving medication which has further health complications. TMJ can also be a leading indicator that you are stressed or grind your teeth. Getting on top of these issues early will prevent further health complications.

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dr cristian dunker

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About Dr Cristian Dunker

Dr. Cristian Dunker has helped countless grateful TMJ patients by diagnosing and treating issues with the joints and the bite. Through cutting-edge techniques and latest Diagnostic and Treatment Technologies, Dr. Dunker delivers a TMJ treatment in Gold Coast QLD for patients who are suffering from discomfort or pain to help resolve the condition.                   

He is committed to providing each of his patients with the highest care and best treatment therapy. His goal is to help patients achieve a healthier smile and overall oral health through individualised, affordable, pain-free and gentle treatment. 

Book a complimentary appointment today!

or call us on (07) 5588 3677