Occlusal and TMJ Therapy

The human jaw is uniquely designed for a wide range of motion. Our jaw joint works like a ball and socket, similar to the hip joint that allows it to move up and down, side to side, and back and forth. This wide range of motion allows us to eat a larger variety of foods than if our jaw only hinged in an up and down motion.

What Is TMJ?

Temporomandibular joint dysfunction, otherwise known as TMJ or TMD, occurs when problems arise with the jaw joint. TMJ pain can be quite painful for those who suffer from it. Symptoms of TMJ dysfunction can include:

  • Radiating pain that affects your jaw, neck, and shoulders
  • Headaches
  • Popping or clicking in your joint
  • Your jaw “locking” either opened or closed
  • A grating sound or feeling with jaw movement

In some cases, bite misalignment could be contributing to TMJ issues. An underbite, crossbite, or overbite can cause early wear on teeth and further strain the jaw to have to compensate when biting and chewing.

Splint Therapy

If you’re experiencing symptoms of TMJ dysfunction, Dr. Coussa will evaluate you for splint therapy, which can take pressure off of your jaw and offer relief to your joint. A splint or bite guard is typically made of plastic that can be hard or soft depending on your needs. The mouth guard may cover your top or bottom teeth depending on your evaluation and may be worn just at night, or all day in some cases.

Each splint is different and custom designed to the needs of the patient. For example, an appliance that is designed to help bite misalignment will help guide the jaw into the right position and may need to be worn for longer periods throughout the day. While a bite guard designed to protect the teeth from additional bruxism or wear may only need to be worn at night.  

Whatever your needs are, these appliances can often take the pressure off of your jaw and allow your muscles to relax, which in turn will bring you relief from your discomfort. Dr. Coussa will be able to determine which type of appliance is right for your situation, provide the initial fitting, and then monitor and adjust your appliance as needed.

Other Options for TMJ Pain

There may be other options that will help eliminate your TMJ pain such as orthodontics or crown work. Orthodontics can help straighten your teeth and properly align your bite, while crowns are a permanent way to repair worn teeth and help restore your bite. 

If you find that you’re experiencing symptoms of TMJ dysfunction, contact Dr. Coussa right away and schedule a consultation to determine what the right option is for you.