Our dentistry practice is about more than just giving you a bright, photogenic smile, important as that task is. Dr. Scott Greenhalgh is also an experienced and capable TMJ dentist. If you suffer from what seem to be chronic tension headaches, you might be suffering from a condition known as temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ or TMD).
Dr. Greenhalgh has used a prudent, effective TMJ treatment strategy for decades. He’s helped many Denver-area residents eliminate their headaches and find relief from the pain they’ve suffered as a result of their TMJ.
If you are suffering with any of the symptoms discussed below, please call Scott Greenhalgh, DDS, today at 303-988-9060 to arrange your TMJ diagnosis appointment.
- Your Temporomandibular Joint
- Symptoms of TMJ
- TMJ Diagnosis
- Relief from TMJ Pain
- TMJ Treatment After Orthodontic Treatment
- Call Dr. Greenhalgh Today
Your Temporomandibular Joint
If you place your fingers in front of your ears and open and close your mouth repeatedly, you can feel the temporomandibular joint. For all intents and purposes it’s your jaw joint; it connects your jaw with the base of your skull.
The lower jaw has several muscles connected to it, and one is the temporalis muscle, situated at each side of the head over the temple and above the ear. Another is called the masseter, which is under your ears near the corner of the lower jaw. If you have a habit of clenching your teeth, the temporalis and the masseter are the muscles doing it. Your ability to speak, eat, and drink, all depend upon the proper action of these critical joints.
You can think of the complex, interconnected network of bones, muscles, ligaments, tendons and nerves in the jaw area as a highway system. When your jaw is misaligned or you clench your teeth, you irritate the temporomandibular joint.
Symptoms of TMJ
The pain caused by irritation of this joint is spread across your body. Patients who suffer from chronic headaches, neck pain, and jaw discomfort might dismiss these seemingly unrelated symptoms as signs of stress.
The interconnected nature of your muscles, ligaments, tendons, bones, and nerves means that a malfunction at the site of the TMJ can cause discomfort at locations relatively far away from it. That’s one reason why diagnosing and treating TMJ disorders can be so frustrating for long-suffering patients.
A few of the most common symptoms that TMJ sufferers may experience include:
- Chronic headaches
- Headaches may also cause extra symptoms such as dizziness or nausea
- Jaw pain
- Facial pain and/or swelling
- Ringing in the ears
- Hearing loss
- Neck and shoulder pain
- Upper back pain
- A popping sound when opening and closing the jaw
- Difficulty opening or closing the mouth, such as when chewing
- Limited jaw movement, jaw locking, or asymmetrical jaw movement
- Premature wear and tear on the teeth
- Difficulty with swallowing
These symptoms can greatly hurt your quality of life. Fortunately, a skilled TMJ dentist can treat your condition. The first step in evaluating your symptoms is to schedule an appointment with experienced neuromuscular dentist Scott Greenhalgh, who can make an accurate TMJ diagnosis.
Learn more about TMJ by reading our Cosmetic Dentistry Blog!
When you visit our office for a TMJ diagnosis, you'll receive the full attention of Dr. Greenhalgh while taking advantage of the advanced technology at our disposal. Diagnosing TMJ is largely about discovering the evidence of strain and irritation on your temporomandibular joint.
Though strain and irritation are always the causes of TMJ, treating the condition is all about diagnosing the specific causes of the strain. Those causes can include:
- Teeth grinding
- Teeth clenching
- A bite or jaw alignment problem
- Poor posture
When it comes to TMJ, "cause" is not an academic issue. It's meaningless to determine that you have TMJ if that diagnosis is not paired with a clear understanding of how the problem developed in the first place. A structural misalignment will persist even if clenching and grinding are addressed, for example.
We can determine the cause of your TMJ through the use of advanced technology. Imaging technology, such as CAT scans, allows us to take crystal clear pictures of your jaw and teeth, providing us with a complete portrait of your bite and jaw alignment.
If the problem is structural, we can then use advanced software to find a bite position that is relaxed and natural.
Dr. Greenhalgh believes in providing his Denver-area patients with safe, simple and proven TMJ treatments. These treatments will always be based on an educated diagnosis of your condition and its causes.
Relief from TMJ Pain
Dr. Greenhalgh has had a great deal of success helping patients re-gain their quality of life with these simple treatment methods.
Our most common method for treating TMJ is the splint, which is just a small oral appliance made of resin or plastic. It is a proven and easy treatment for teeth clenching. It is a small device, which fits over a few front teeth, either upper or lower. It is called the NTI-tss Plus™ and is FDA approved for TMD treatment.
Many of our patients actually come to our office with other splints. Unfortunately, the vast majority of those splints do not actually help to treat TMJ or relieve symptoms. That’s where we can help.
We can custom design a splint that is right for your specific needs and bite alignment issues so that it supports the temporomandibular joint and relaxes the muscles of your jaw.
The NTI-tss Plus works by preventing the upper and lower teeth from coming together. Where other and larger bite guards are less effective because they provide a good clenching surface, the NTI Plus avoids that pitfall and prevents you from clenching at all.
Sometimes teeth can crack from the constant clenching pressure of TMD, and the NTI Plus also protects your teeth from such damage. It is made of an unbreakable clear thermoplastic material. It will not become stained or absorb any odors, as it is non-porous.
Dr. Greenhalgh places your comfort and health at the top of his priority list. If you are wondering whether you have any TMJ symptoms, a discussion with him and an examination of your jaw joints and bite would give you necessary information to make informed decisions about your treatment. Before any pain relief can become permanent, the cause of the pain must be accurately diagnosed.
We believe in creating a TMJ treatment plan that is right for you. Our treatments are simple, but they provide profound relief.
TMJ Treatment After Orthodontic Treatment
Many of our TMJ patients are individuals who have recently completed long-term orthodontic work. When it comes to your bite, precision is incredibly important. If your new bite or jaw alignment is just a little bit off, you can end up suffering from TMJ.
That’s why it’s vital that you see our TMJ dentist immediately after coming to the end of your orthodontic treatment. Diagnosis is crucial. If you’ve recently had braces or other orthodontic work, you should come to our office to discuss TMJ and what we can do to prevent it.
There are a few different approaches to treating TMJ. Dr. Greenhalgh has had exceptional success with simple, non-invasive treatments that treat the teeth-clenching issues that are the primary drivers of TMJ.
Are There Any Risks Associated with TMJ Treatment?
It’s true that most medical treatments and interventions carry the possibility of certain risks or complications. TMJ treatment provided by Dr. Greenhalgh is generally low-risk, especially once he has determined you are a good candidate.
Non-surgical treatments like an oral splint or mouth guard provide a means of treating TMJ without the hassle or risks of surgery. Although some people need surgery for jaw issues, many people with TMJ symptoms find an effective solution in these non-surgical interventions.
What are Some of the Causes of TMJ?
There are many potential contributing factors to TMJ symptoms, such as:
- Teeth grinding
- Jaw clenching
- Misaligned teeth or crooked bite
- Problems related to the jaw joint and discs (degeneration, injury, displacement, etc.)
The good news is that there is something you can do about these painful symptoms. Once Dr. Greenhalgh has identified the cause, he will discuss all of your options for treatment and relief.
Is Surgery my Only Option for TMJ Disorders?
For most people, no, surgery is not the only option for alleviating TMJ problems. Dr. Greenhalgh most often uses a splint to hold the bite in proper alignment and relieve tension on the TMJs. This comes as a surprise to many people who suffer from TMJ symptoms, and we’ve found that patients are highly satisfied when they can avoid surgery. The only way to know if it will work for you is to visit Dr. Greenhalgh.
How Should I Prepare for my TMJ Procedure?
Since Dr. Greenhalgh treats TMJ non-surgically, there’s not much you need to do to prepare for your appointment. First you will come to your consultation to find out about your treatment options. If you decide to move forward with splint therapy, the next step is to schedule the appointment to design your custom device. There’s nothing you need to do to prepare for the appointment other than set aside the time!
What is Recovery like After TMJ Treatment?
Because Dr. Greenhalgh’s TMJ treatments are non-surgical, there is no recovery to speak of in most cases. There may be some downtime involved if you have dental work performed in addition to your TMJ treatment (such as a root canal, or repair of a broken tooth).
Can I do Anything at Home to Help my TMJ?
Treatment from an experienced TMJ dentist like Dr. Greenhalgh is typically the way to get effective, long-lasting relief. But anything you can do at home to rest the jaw and reduce jaw joint strain may help with pain relief. Examples include:
- Pursue stress relief to reduce jaw clenching. Routine exercise, even 20 minutes of light activity a day, may be a good option.
- Use a cold compress against the jaw if you are experiencing soreness.
- Be careful with what you eat. Chewy, hard foods can exert and strain your jaw joints. Cut food like apples, steak, and chewy bread into smaller, bitesize pieces.
Talk to Dr. Greenhalgh about what may work for you.
Call Dr. Greenhalgh Today
Dr. Greenhalgh will be happy to answer all of your questions and explain what you can expect during TMJ treatment.
Are you ready to take the first step toward TMJ pain relief? Call Dr. Greenhalgh today at 303-988-9060 to schedule your TMJ consultation and examination.
We welcome patients throughout the Lakewood and Denver, Colorado areas.