Helping Patients Manage Their Pain
Georgia dentist Dr. James Lassiter focuses a portion of his practice towards treating adult patients who have complex dental problems such as missing teeth, occlusal disease and TMJ dysfunction. Dr. Lassiter is one of the few Kingsland dentists with the training and experience needed to successfully solve patients’ dental problems and restore proper health, function and esthetics.
If you experience frequent headaches, jaw pain, or other facial pain, call us for a consultation with Dr. Lassiter. Call 912-208-2565 or request an appointment online.
What is TMJ Dysfunction
The temporomandibular joints – or the TMJ, are a pair of small joints on each side of your face, located just in front of the ears. For most people, the TMJ functions smoothly. But for those who have a problem, the pain caused by TMJ dysfunction (TMD) can be unbearable.
A number of factors can cause or contribute to TMJ disorder. In some cases, the joint itself is not functioning properly. TMD can also be caused by dental problems such as teeth that don’t fit together properly or the persistent grinding or clenching of teeth.
In addition to join pain, TMD can contribute to migraine headaches, facial pain, neck and/or shoulder pain, earaches, tooth wear and a long list of other problems.
How Is TMJ Disorder Diagnosed?
Looking at the oral system as a whole, Dr. Lassiter understands how important the jaw joints are to the overall health and wellness of the smile. Diagnosis of TMD begins with complete evaluation:
- Review of medical, dental and pain history
- Physical exam of head and neck, including muscles, jaw joints, and mouth
- Range of motion assessment
- Bite analysis
- Evaluation for referral with physical therapist (if needed)
- Models of teeth and bite (if needed)
Once the exam is complete, Dr. Lassiter will sit with you to discuss treatment options. Together, you will create a plan that will put you on the path to a more comfortable life.
Signs & Symptoms of TMJ Dysfunction
It is estimated that 15% of American adults suffer from jaw pain, headaches and other chronic facial pain. Many of these adults may have an undiagnosed dental problem such as TMJ dysfunction or occlusal disease. An experienced dentist can help identify issues and offer treatment that will relieve pain and restore harmony to the bite.
Temporomandibular Disorder (TMD) refers to a range of conditions affecting the TM joints, muscles and/or facial nerves. Patients affected by TMD will often exhibit different symptoms, making it difficult to diagnose.
Common Signs & Symptoms of TMD
- Jaw pain
- Abnormal jaw movements such as clicking, locking, shifting (grating) or “popping” upon opening
- Limited mobility in the jaw
- Habits such grinding & clenching
- Neck and/or shoulder Pain
- Earaches or feeling of fullness in the ears
Treatment Options for TMJ Dysfunction
The causes of chronic headaches, face and TMJ pain are many and most often interrelated. During the examination, Dr. Lassiter is able to identify the causes for pain and begin to develop a differential diagnosis. Because the causes are multi-factorial, it generally is best to employ a team approach to pain management.
The goal is always the most conservative and effective treatment. There is no one-size-fits-all solution, the key is identifying which are best for each individual. Some of the treatment options may include:
- Splint Therapy
- Physical Therapy
- Equilibration (bite balance)
- Stress Coach
- Oral Surgeons & Orthodontists
Bite guards and dental splints are an effective treatment for many with TMJ disorder. There are many different designs that Dr. Lassiter can use, based on your specific symptoms and habits. At the most basic level, an occlusal appliances relieves pressure on the TM joints and relaxes muscles to keep teeth in a comfortable position.
Often times, restorative dentistry is needed to achieve a balanced bite. This may include one or several procedures to re-establish harmony between the TM joints, muscles and teeth.