TMJ/TMD Testimonial from Kris F.

“After years of trying every kind of “cure” for my TMJ (botox, night guards, high priced specialty mouth wear, TMJ specialists, physical therapy, etc.), Nicole finally found me some relief. She absolutely knows what she’s doing and finds the root of the problem. Highly recommend.”

Do You Clench And/Or Grind Your Teeth?

Back in June of this year, I wrote a post on TMD: Temporomandibular Disorder, specifying causes and symptoms related to temporomandibular joint pain and dysfunction. This post will be about clenching and grinding, and the effects it can have on your jaw and teeth. Keep in mind that I am obviously not trained in dentistry, which is why I will publicize a top-notch dentist in my area; one that I have been going to for years, and refer my clients to when the need arises. More on him later though.

Clenching and grinding, also known as bruxism, has caused some problems for me over the years. Not only has it seriously affected the musculature around my jaw, it has also given rise to non-natural contours and slight fracturing in my teeth.

Bruxism can be defined as either diurnal or nocturnal: diurnal is during the day, often stress related and easier to treat; nocturnal is at night, not under conscious control, which in turn can be a devastating habit causing great pain in the TMJ and also ruin the teeth.

Sleep bruxism often exerts remarkably powerful forces on teeth, gums, and joints. One estimate puts it at three times the forces generated during chewing (Castaneda, 1992, p. 46), while another puts it at ten times, powerful enough to crack a walnut. — Dr. Moti Nissani, 2000

According to the link directly above, Dr. Nissani also states that bruxism may lead to the following…

  • Sensitive, worn-out, decayed, fractured, loose, or missing teeth (McGuire and Nunn, 1996).
  • Broken down enamel, and in long-term bruxers, may reduce teeth to stumps.
  • Yellowish and softer dentin as opposed to white enamel cover.
  • The back teeth losing their cusps and natural contours; instead of appearing flat, they look as if they were worked over with a file or sandpaper.
  • Bridges, crowns, root canals, implants, partial dentures, and even complete dentures.

By 40 or 50 years of age, most bruxers . . . have worn their teeth to the degree that extensive tooth restorations must be performed. — Christensen, 1999

Now back to the AWESOME dentist I briefly mentioned at the beginning of my post. Dr. Alex M. Della Bella has been my dentist for 10+ years; helping me with anything from shaping my somewhat jagged-edged front teeth to making an occlusal guard for the clenching and grinding. In addition to me treating my own “adaptively shortened” jaw muscles intra-orally to help with TMD related pain (I’m trained in that), I can’t express enough how much an occlusal guard has helped me in preventing further damage to my pearly whites—those coming to fruition via the ZOOM! In-Office Whitening process.

Dr. Alex Della Bella: The official dentist to the Cincinnati Red’s

If you live in Cincinnati, Ohio—or the surrounding areas—and feel you suffer from bruxism, I highly recommend you contact Dr. Della Bella’s office at 513.793.1977 for support in getting things under control. You can also request an appointment directly through this link. If you’re looking for other dentistry services, Dr. Della Bella also specializes in the following…

  • Cosmetic Dentistry – Tooth Bonding, Porcelain Veneers, Whitening, Tooth Jewelry, ZOOM! In-Office Whitening
  • Restorative Dentistry – Crowns, Partial Crowns, Tooth Colored Resin Restorations
  • Preventative Dentistry – Athletic Mouthguard, Fluoride, Fluoride Varnish, Occlusal Guard, Oral Hygiene Instruction, Routine Maintenance, Sealants, Velscope Oral Cancer Examination
  • Sports Dentistry – Athletic Mouthguard, Injury Management Card, Pro Football Program, Traumatic Injury Management, Under Armour Performance Mouthwear
  • Sleep Disorder Management – Tap Appliance, Somnomed Appliance
  • Reconstructive Dentistry – Fixed Replacement of Missing Teeth (Bridges), Full and Partial Removable Dentures, Implants
  • Orthodontics – Invisalign
  • Periodontal Therapy – Arestin, Oraqix, Scaling and Root Planing, Soft Tissue Management

In closing, between Dr. Della Bella’s 25+ years in the dental field, and mine—hmmm… only about five years ;-)—in advanced soft tissue therapy for TMJ pain and dysfunction, I feel we make a great team in helping people manage their pain and dysfunction related to TMD. Here’s what he has to say…

Temporomandibular joint pain and dysfunction is best handled in a very conservative manner by competent, experienced professionals.  When an experienced dentist teams up with an experienced therapist, like Nicole, the level of success attained is usually enhanced because the problem can be addressed using various, conservative methods.

As always, I hope you find this information informative!

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“Neutral balance alignment is key to becoming pain free!”™ ~ Me

TMD: Temporomandibular Disorder

The arrow is intended to point at the general area.

Since I am trained to treat TMJ pain and dysfunction related to the temporomandibular joint—which also happens to be something that many people suffer from; yours truly included—I decided this would be a great topic for today’s post.

Temporomandibular disorder (TMD) rears it’s ugly head when there are problems with the jaw, jaw joint(s), and/or when surrounding facial muscles are imbalanced. This disorder is often incorrectly called TMJ, which stands for temporomandibular joint… And every single one of us has two.

What is the Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ)? The TMJ is the hinge joint that connects the lower jaw (mandible) to the temporal bone of the skull, which is immediately in front of the ear on both sides of our head. (You can feel them move by placing your fingers where I just mentioned while opening and closing your mouth.)

The joints are flexible, which allows us to move our jaw smoothly; up-and-down, side-by-side. The joints make it possible for us to talk, chew, and yawn. The muscles connected to the joints make it possible for us to control the position and movement of our jaw.

What Causes TMD? Injury to the jaw, temporomandibular joint, or muscles of the head and neck—such as from a heavy blow, a fall, or whiplash—can cause TMD. Repetitive movements can adaptively shorten the surrounding muscles causing it as well. Other possible causes include:

  • Grinding or clenching the teeth, which puts a lot of pressure on the joints
  • Dislocation of the disc between the ball and socket
  • Presence of osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis in the joints
  • Stress, which can cause a person to tighten facial and jaw muscles or clench the teeth

What Are The Symptoms of TMD? People with TMD can experience severe pain and discomfort that may be temporary or last for many years. Common symptoms of TMD include:

  • Pain or tenderness in the face, jaw joint area, neck and shoulders, and in or around the ear when you chew, speak, or open your mouth wide
  • Limited ability to open the mouth very wide
  • Jaws that get “stuck” or “lock” in the open- or closed-mouth position
  • Clicking, popping, or grating sounds in the jaw joint, which may or may not be accompanied by pain, when opening/closing the mouth or chewing
  • A tired feeling in the face
  • Difficulty chewing or a sudden uncomfortable bite—as if the upper and lower teeth are not fitting together properly
  • Swelling on the side of the face
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Pain and paresthesia in the upper extremities
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Toothaches
  • May occur on one or both sides of the face
  • Ear symptoms

Ear symptoms associated with TMD include:

  • Fullness in the ears
  • Tinnitis (ringing in the ears)
  • Ear pain
  • Hearing problems such as ubjective hearing loss
  • The sensation of itching in the ears

TMD PREVALENCE
About 75% of the population has a least one sign, and 33% has at least one symptom. The age range at presentation is normally in the region of 16-30 years, but often persists for two or more decades.
Gender bias = 4:1 female.
AAOP TMD Guidelines: 1990, ’93, ’96

On another note, it is VERY important that I mention this… A sudden onset of severe pain within the jaw could indicate a heart attack. This is more common with females. Please keep this in mind for yourself and your loved ones as it could potentially save a life!

As always, I hope you find this information informative!

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“Neutral balance alignment is key to becoming pain free!”™ ~ Me