TMD Diagnosis and Treatment

Jaw muscle and joint pain may be the result of occlusal (bite) problems. At Orange Grove Dental in New Port Richey, Florida, Dr. Srividya Vulugundam has made an extensive study of the diagnosis and treatment of temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD).

When you have a comprehensive oral examination or when you call because you are experiencing jaw joint or muscle tenderness or other symptoms of TMD, Dr. Vulugundam will gently palpate your jaw and neck muscles as you open and close your jaw. She will examine the way your teeth come together and how they interfere with each other or work harmoniously as you bite and chew.

Occlusion is the way your teeth come together and work against each other when you speak, eat, and grind your teeth under tension. Your occlusion is determined by the size, shape and position of your teeth in opposition to each other and the way your muscles and jaw joints accommodate the occlusal surfaces of teeth that interfere with each other. The repeated stress of tooth interferences and stressful jaw activity such as nighttime teeth grinding (bruxism) can wear down dental enamel and produce fine cracks on the surface of teeth (called “crazing”). If the tooth has been restored with a filling, a crack may develop through the enamel, requiring restoration with a crown. The jaw joints may undergo arthritic wear and inflammation. The muscles of the jaw, head and neck may become inflamed.

Signs and Symptoms of TMD

Dr. Vulugundam, will notice upon examination if the tops of your teeth have wear patterns typical of nighttime bruxism and if you have teeth that interfere with each other when your mouth is at rest, you are speaking, or you are replicating the biting, sliding and grinding movements of mastication. These are signs of occlusal disease. The symptoms that you are likely to report and cause you to seek treatment are jaw pain, ear pain, unexplained headaches and neck aches, and loosening of one or more teeth (due to stress on the periodontal ligaments that help hold teeth in place).

Treatment for TMD

Dr. Vulugundam can provide treatment to:

  • Halt damage due to nighttime bruxism with a night guard appliance that can also be worn during the day.
  • Make you comfortable and stabilize your jaw joints using bite splint therapy for a period of time, and then modify your bite to align teeth and equalize the load in harmonious function.
  • Modify the alignment of your teeth and the shape of the tops of your teeth and dental restorations to balance your bite.

During treatment, injury to muscles, tooth ligaments, and often times jaw joints can be reversed. Comfort can be regained. Dental wear and cracks are not reversible, but fortunately dental materials and technology enable our dentists to restore teeth to strong function and pristine condition. Many of the dental crowns, bridges and other repairs adults typically need might be avoided if the signs of occlusal disease are recognized and addressed in the early stages.

Call Us for a TMD Consultation and Exam Today

The sooner occlusal disease is recognized and treated, the sooner you will be out of pain and maximize the probability that you will have healthy teeth throughout your lifetime. Call for an appointment with Dr. Vulugundam today.