Temporomandibular Joint Therapy (TMJ)

Splint therapy may provide relief for those with TMJ problems such as: pain and tightness in jaw, headaches, restricted jaw movement/opening, stiff neck, ringing and/or aching in the ears, popping and clicking noises in the joints, and clenching & grinding of the teeth. Most problems result from: dysfunction of jaw muscles and joints, traumatic injuries such as a blow to the jaw, teeth missing or misaligned, clenching and grinding of teeth, emotional stress, etc.

A splint (mouthpiece) is a removable appliance worn over the teeth to passively reposition the lower jaw to its physiologically most stable position. Due to the complexity of the joints there is no assurance that all symptoms will go away or improve. Therefore the splint therapy is not just treatment, but also a diagnostic tool for us to determine what is happening in the joints. Dr. Bush may recommend an extensive occlusal (bite) analysis and muscle testing be performed in order to make the diagnosis of how he is going to treat your symptoms.

The type of treatment methods we use is based on our experience, skill, knowledge to be the most proven, appropriate, and conservative. However, as with any medical or dental treatment, there are always some substantial risks and complications with any treatment. Some of these include, but are not limited to:

  • Lack of improvement or worsening of pain & jaw dysfunction
  • Resultant malocclusion and/or limited jaw opening
  • Further degenerative changes in the TMJ
  • Decreased lower jaw motion
  • Noises in the TMJ

Length of treatment may vary according to the complexity of your condition. Although most conditions respond well to treatment, general health, stress, degree of injury, posture, age, work habits, bite relationships, etc. do affect the outcome. Total resolution is not always possible. In general, the treatment will be more lengthy if the symptoms are severe or if the problem has existed for a long time. The length of treatment with a splint can be as short as 1-2 months or as long as 1-2 years, with the average 5-10 months. In many cases after splint treatment it may be necessary to have a full mouth equilibration (bite adjustment) to level the bite, and if so an additional fee will apply. This treatment could cause tooth sensitivity to develop which then may require additional dental procedures to be performed, and any costs thus incurred is the patient’s responsibility. In addition, equilibration may result in holes in existing crowns, sometimes necessitating them to be remade at an additional charge.

Disorders of Temporomandibular Joint can mimic other dental and medical problems. A proper diagnosis regarding head and neck pain is very important, because serious medical problems such as vascular disorders, brain tumors, aneurisms, cervical disc disorders, throat and oral cancer, etc. can produce similar symptoms of TMJ disorders. It is important to inform our office of any changes in your health history form that was previously provided.