Does your jaw click and pop every time you move it? Has it ever been “stuck” while opening or closing? Have you been to multiple doctors about your persistent headaches, and none of them can figure out what is causing them? Often, these painful symptoms can all be caused by a strained or injured TMJ, or temporomandibular joint, which is the joint that connects your jaw to the rest of your head. A TMJ disorder, or TMD, is one of the most common causes of chronic jaw, head, and facial pain in the U.S., and it’s something we help patients overcome every day here with TMJ therapy in Boca Raton, FL.
While the causes of TMD can be quite wide ranging, the most common tend to be stress, strain, injury to the joint, arthritis, or a misaligned bite. If a patient exhibits or reports any issues that could be TMD, we will use a number of tests and scans to get to the root of the problem. Once we understand what is actually causing the pain, we can offer a patient a number of proven treatment options, including:
Sometimes, a misalignment of the teeth can prevent the bite from coming together properly, meaning that the facial muscles are never able to fully relax. This can lead to tension that soon turns into pain. With an equilibration/occlusal adjustment, we simply reshape a few key teeth so that they’re able to close correctly, allowing the muscles to reach their natural resting position, which should help any pain go away.
A TENS machine is able to basically give strained TMJ muscles a massage while also increasing blood flow to the area that flushes out inflammatory factors. Two small electrodes are placed right below the ears, and the machine sends short and gentle pulses of electricity that gradually relax the strained muscles and ligaments around the joint. Patients typically experience quite a bit of relief after just one session, though multiple ones may be needed to address symptoms long-term.
Since TMJ disorder can be treated in various ways, it’s only natural to have a few questions about the process. At your initial visit, Dr. Lamberti and Dr. Feit will carefully listen to your concerns, and they’ll take the time to explain the services we offer in as much detail as possible. And of course, you can always reach out to our office if there’s anything you want to know about our TMJ-related services. Here are answers to some of the questions that we’ve often heard in the past.
A TMJ disorder can be cured, but it’s important to remember that not all treatments offer permanent relief by themselves. A TENS machine can significantly reduce your pain, but it doesn’t necessarily correct the issue that is causing your TMJ disorder. On the other hand, occlusal adjustments allow us to reshape your bite so that your jaw joints aren’t exposed to as much pressure. As a result, occlusal adjustments often bring lasting relief while TENS treatment is more of a temporary solution.
TENS treatment is non-invasive, and there are no needles or medications involved. It’s therefore considered a perfectly safe option for most people. However, we do not recommend this treatment for patients who are pregnant, suffer from epilepsy, or have heart problems. We’ll consider your health history very carefully before we decide whether TENS is right for you.
You should always have TENS treatment performed by a professional. There are TENS machines that you can buy over the counter, but while the electric frequency they utilize is very low and unlikely to cause serious harm, it’s always safer to have an expert handle the process.
Each TENS treatment session usually takes around 30 minutes, and most people experience relief from their TMJ-related pain immediately afterward. By having multiple TENS treatments performed over time, you can keep your TMJ discomfort under control in the long term.
However, by itself a TENS machine can only stop your pain; it won’t address the source of your TMJ disorder. For this reason, it’s usually recommended to have TENS treatment performed in conjunction with other types of TMJ therapy. This approach will help you stay as comfortable as possible until you can put a permanent stop to your TMJ problems.
You’ll need to check with your insurance company to see if they’ll help pay for your TMJ therapy. Many insurance plans may not include TMJ coverage at all, and those that do might have rules about the kinds of procedures that are included.
Also, while some types of TMJ therapy can only be provided by dental professionals, the TMJ is a joint and is therefore not exclusively related to dental health. Consequently, TMJ treatment can fall under either medical insurance or dental insurance.
Our practice accepts a variety of dental plans, and one of our team members will be happy to go over your benefits with you if you’re not sure what your coverage for TMJ treatment looks like.