When the nerves, muscles, hard and soft tissues in your jaw and mouth become misaligned, damaged or fatigued, it often requires the help of an experienced neuromuscular dentist to help you identify the root problem and provide effective treatment.
If you suffer from chronic migraine-like headaches or other TMJ-related symptoms discussed on this page, please contact BridgeView Dental online or at 512-347-8299 to schedule a consultation with LVI-trained neuromuscular dentist Dr. Lance Loveless. We proudly serve the Austin area and welcome patients from Lakeway and West Lake Hills.
What Is Neuromuscular Dentistry?
Neuromuscular dentistry is the field of dentistry that focuses on the collaborative relationship between your teeth, gums, jaw bone, jaw joints, muscles and tendons. When there is a problem with any of these aspects of your oral structure, a condition known as temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ) can occur.
The main goal of neuromuscular dentistry is to address these dysfunctions by achieving a comfortable, proper bite position. Dr. Loveless will evaluate the position of your jaws and teeth while your mouth is opened and closed. Once he has fully assessed the mechanics of your bite, he will help you reach an ideal jaw position.
What Is Temporomandibular Joint Disorder?
Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD) is a condition that occurs when the jaw becomes misaligned. Your temporomandibular joint is one of the most complex joints of your body, and connects your jaw to your skull. It is responsible for the function and movement of your jaw and facilitates crucial daily activities such as eating, swallowing, talking and yawning.
TMJ/TMD can cause chronic jaw and facial pain. Chronic headaches are a common symptom. Through state-of-the-art technology and advanced techniques, Dr. Loveless can help identify the cause of your pain and design an individualized treatment plan to help align your bite and relieve your pain.
Symptoms of TMJ
The symptoms of temporomandibular joint disorder can range from mild to severe, such as:
- Jaw symptoms: Including popping, clicking, grinding sounds, lock jaw and stiffness
- Head symptoms: Including migraine-like headaches and dizziness
- Facial symptoms: Including swelling, pain and fatigue
- Ear symptoms: Including pain, tinnitus (ringing), difficulty hearing
- Body symptoms: Including pain in the shoulders, neck and posture issues
You can experience any of these symptoms with or without actually having TMD. You may suffer from pathology or transient pain that requires the attention of a medical specialist. It’s important to work with Dr. Loveless to determine the nature of your symptoms to rule out your jaw and facial muscles as the source of your discomfort.
Causes of TMD
Your temporomandibular joint unites your skull with your lower jaw. The surrounding muscles enable you to move your jaw up, down, around and from side to side. The cartilage between the socket and ball portion of the joint allow you to smoothly eat, yawn and speak.
There is no single cause of TMD, which is why it can be so difficult to diagnose in many cases. Some of the more common causes of the disorder include:
- Nighttime jaw movements related to sleep apnea
- Rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis
- Overbite, underbite or crossbite caused by jaw misalignment
- Cartilage or disk erosion in the joints of the jaw
- Trauma to the jaw joints or other muscles in the head or neck
- Jaw muscle fatigue resulting from grinding, clenching or other abnormal function
Treating Your Temporomandibular Joint Disorder
A customized TMJ treatment plan is designed to keep your jaw aligned and your muscles free from pain. To accomplish this, Dr. Loveless will meticulously evaluate your oral structure and recommend an individualized treatment plan that addresses your specific needs. Depending on the details of your condition, he may recommend:
- Invisalign: These clear, removable plastic braces can gently shift your teeth into the desired location over time.
- Oral appliance: Appliance therapy helps your jaw to rest in a proper physiological position.
- Full mouth reconstruction: This comprehensive approach can build up or change the shape of your teeth to support the comfortable and physiological position of your bite.
- Tooth replacement: Filling the gaps of missing teeth with dental implants stops other teeth from shifting.
Contact Us Today to Schedule Your TMJ Consultation
If you live in the Austin area and would like to learn more about TMJ and how Dr. Loveless may be able to help, please call BridgeView Dental today by completing the form on this page or calling 512-347-8299 to schedule your TMJ consultation. We happily welcome patients from Austin, Lakeway and West Lake Hills.