Tag Archives: tmj treatment

Do I Really Need to Destroy Healthy Teeth to Fix TMJ?

I’ve been having horrible jaw pain and merciless migraines. Sometimes it’s so bad I can’t even eat and have to drink my dinner of broth through a straw. I went to several doctors and two different dentists before I was diagnosed with TMU. But, he says the only way to fix it is to crown all my teeth to fix my bite. That would mean not only a fortune in dental bills, but destroying healthy tooth structure as well. Is that really the way to go?

Sydney C.

Dear Sydney,

Sometimes a full-mouth reconstruction is the only option, but it’s usually used as a last resort. There are several other treatments which should be tried before that. Additionally, it takes a significant amount of reconstructive and TMJ training to do a full mouth reconstruction. Done incorrectly, it can cause even more pain then what you’re currently in now.

Also, if you do need it, you may find a dentist who uses the composite resin, like you get for white fillings to adjust the bite instead of porcelain crowns. However, don’t push a dentist to use one type of treatment or another. It’s best they use the materials they’re most comfortable with.

In your place, I’d like to see you get at least two more opinions from dentists with lots of TMJ expertise. For instance, Dr. Burba studied at both the Dawson Academy and Spear Institute. Both of these give advanced training in TMJ. There’s never any harm in asking a dentist what type of training and success they’ve had in specific procedures, especially when you’re talking about such a huge, invasive procedure.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Randall Burba.

Orthly App Versus Invisalign

I recently read about an app called Orthly.  It’s a lot cheaper than Invisalign. In fact, I can’t afford Invisalign, but I can this app. Is it safe?

Benjamin H.

Benjamin,

This app hasn’t been available long. It could be a wonderful product, but there are a few things which concern me. The first is that it is developed by students who, like many people including yourself, couldn’t afford Invisalign. That in itself isn’t so bad, but they admit themselves they have no knowledge of dentistry.

They evaluated how Invisalign works and came up with what they felt was an affordable solution. Unfortunately, one of the ways it saves so much money is by keeping dental professionals out of the treatment plan, except for a few “check-ups” by photo to see how your teeth are coming along.

Here’s my concern with those check-ups. How can an orthodontist measure and track things such as mobility, root absorption, periodontal disease, and oral hygiene through a photo? The answer is they can’t. Unfortunately, any of those issues can mean serious problems for your teeth. They can even lead to you losing your teeth.

The jury is still out on Orthy. In your place, I’d talk to your dentist. Let him or her know your financial concern. It’s likely they can work out a payment plan of some type for you which will work with your budget.

Straightening your teeth can do a lot more than give you confidence in your smile. It can help with things like jaw pain and migraines if they’re being caused by your bite.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Randall Burba.

 

Diet or Dentist For TMJ?

I feel a little foolish asking this question but I’m wondering if TMJ can be a diet related problem? I have horrible jaw and head pain, especially in the mornings. My closest friend truly believes that if I switch to a whole foods diet it will be taken care of. Even as I type it, it seems like a stupid idea. However, I’ll have to admit my friend is a lot healthier than I am. So maybe there is something to what she has to say.  Do I need a dentist or a diet change?

Lucia M.

Dear Lucia,

There is one aspect of TMJ which can be diet related, but one only. Chewing. TMJ is a disorder of the temporomandibular joint.  Changing your diet won’t repair the joint. However, if you’re eating things such as raw carrots and apples it could be adding stress to the joint. It might be a good idea to lay off the hard and chewy foods while your dentist gets to the cause of your problem.

Your symptoms sort of sound like the cause could be teeth grinding. You wouldn’t necessarily even know you’re doing it if it’s happening while you’re asleep.

If that’s the cause, a simple mouthguard could be just the solution for you. Your dentist can custom design one to fit comfortably in your mouth while you sleep. If you start to grind your teeth, the mouthguard will absorb the pressure, protecting your teeth and your joint.

This will also protect your teeth from damage. The grinding can cause your teeth to become loose or cracked, causing you to need a dental crown.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Randall Burba.

Why Do I Need an Occlusion Specialist?

I’m a little confused. My dentist has been treating me for TMJ for almost a year. We’ve tried a couple of things, but now he wants to send me to something called an occlusion specialist. Is he just trying to pawn me off?

Elle W. – California

Elle,

I don’t think he’s trying to pawn you off. It’s more likely he realized the cause of your TMJ problems are from your bite and wanted you to see someone who had more training in that area. To me, that means he cares more about getting you the right care than he does about taking your money.

If your bite is off, it really can be the cause of your TMJ. It can throw your temporomandibular joint completely out, that can cause jaw pain, migraines, popping, even lock jaw.

Getting your bite in line can give you the relief you’ve been seeking.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Randall Burba.

Could a crown make TMJ worse?

I’ve been diagnosed with TMJ. My dentist suggested a night guard, which I’ve resisted, mostly because the TMJ only bothers me for a short time in the morning.  I recently got a dental crown.  It’s hitting the tooth above it way before my other teeth do, which is uncomfortable. I’ve mentioned it to my dentist and he said he could grind it down or try to adjust it. But, I’ve also having a much more difficult time with my TMJ. The pain has gotten worse. Could that also be from this crown? Should I let my dentist ground it?

Sylvia M. – New Jersey

Sylvia,

I’d like you to take a step back from this dentist and get a second opinion on your crown. Understanding how bites come together properly takes a significant amount of study and training.

Without the bite properly aligned, it could significantly increase your TMJ symptoms. Just grinding it down won’t help and could hurt the crown.

I’d like you to get a second dentist to look at this crown before moving forward.

Also, it will be important to get that night guard, if you truly do have TMJ. It will protect your teeth from nighttime grinding, that you may not even realize you’re doing.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Randall Burba.

Could an accident cause TMJ problems?

I was in a acr accident the other day and got knocked around quite a bit.  Now  I have a lot of jaw pain and my jaw keeps making a popping sound whenever I chew. Could I have developed TMJ from this? Someone told me that’s what the popping is.

Brenna L. – New Mexico

Brenna,

Popping is a symptom of TMJ and it is possible to get it from a car accident, if your jaw was knocked out of alignmet. The only way to know for sure is to see a dentist who treats TMJ.

Do not hesitate to ask about their TMJ training credentials. There is not a recognized  TMJ specialty. That means any dentist can call themselves a TMJ dentist even without additional training.

Some training qualifications will be Spear, Dawson Academy, The Kois Center, LVI (Las Vegas Institute for Advanced Dental Studies). Those are good qualifications and you can feel assured the dentist will have a valuable understanding of TMJ and how to properly treat it.

This blog is brought to you by Salem, MA Cosmetic Dentist Dr. Randall Burba.

Numbness in my fingers

I’ve been having muscle spasms in my neck and shoulders. I thought it was stress, but now my fingers are going numb. I’ve been doing some research and wondered if all my problems could be from TMJ, even  the numb fingers?

Elinor D. – Maryland

Elinor,

Yes, you’re likely on the right track. The muscles spasms could be caused from TMJ. These in turn can impinge on your nerves. Those nerves lead down your extremities.  That could be causing the numbness in your fingers.

You’ll need to see a dentist with experience treating TMJ. They can do some diagnostic work in order to determine if TMJ is really your problem.

Sometimes, it is a simple fix that can bring you immense relief.  Just be sure whatever dentist you go to has specific training in neuromuscular dentistry. The Dawson Academy and Spear Institute  are two good institutions for training, as well as LVI. Don’t be hesitant to ask what training they have.

This blog is brought to you by Salem, MA Dentist Dr. Randall Burba.

If you grind your teeth, your mouth is NOT fine

I had a check up. I told my dentist that I’ve been having some pain in my teeth/gums. It’s kind of a low-value pain (say on a scale from 1-10 being about a 4 0r 5), but it feels like someone is grabbing my tooth and then letting go. He checked me over and even did some x-rays. He said it looks like I grind my teeth, but I have no cavities or anything and my mouth looks fine. What could be the cause of the pain?

Jen H. – Milwaukee

Jen,

Regardless of what your dentist says, if you grind your teeth everything is absolutely not fine. In fact, the grinding issue needs to be addressed. It’s obvious your dentist is just a cavity / filling type of dentist. However, there are some other dental issues that need to be addressed in your case, such as the strong possibility you have gum disease, TMJ, and possibly occlusion issues.  Some of these can be quite serious. Do not allow your dentist to brush this off.

You’ll have to bear in mind that I haven’t actually examined you and can only just make educated guesses from your descriptions. The pain could be from progressive gum disease or from your grinding. If either are left untreated you will lose your teeth. If it’s gum disease, your teeth will come loose and fall out. If it’s from the grinding, you will literally grind your teeth down to nubs. Additionally, this can lead to some serious TMJ issues.

If you treat this conditions early, it will be a lot simpler and a lot less expensive.  For gum disease, your dentist will have you come in for some extra cleanings. He’ll probably prescribe some fluoride to you as well.  He may suggest some other things as well, depending on the severity of your case.

Even if gum disease is what is causing your pain, you need to address the grinding. The simplest solution is to wear a night guard. If there are some other occlusal issues, some additional treatment might be necessary.

I don’t think your dentist is qualified to address your grinding/tmj issues. I strongly recommend you find a dentist with specific TMJ training. Look for someone who was trained with either the LVI, Dawson Academy, or Spear.

This blog is brought to you by Salem, MA Dentist Dr. Randall Burba.

Technology that helps with TMJ

At Burba Dental we make use of the latest technology in diagnosing and treating TMJ. Often the first difficulty a dentist faces is determining exactly what is wrong and what is causing the patient’s pain. To address this, at Burba dental, we have invested in the T-Scan Occlusal Analysis System by Tekscan.

“The only clinical diagnostic device available that senses and analyzes occlusal contact forces to quantify whether a patient’s bite is balanced.”- www.tekscan.com

This system uses a highly sophisticated piece of diagnostic equipment, the T-Scan sensor. You bite down on the T-scan sensor. The computer analyzes all your bite data and displays it graphically. That data is extremely helpful in determining the cause of your problem.  We then use that information, to help set up your treatment plan.

This blog is brought to you by Boston TMJ dentist Dr. Stanley Burba.