Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders are a common occurrence among many patients. Connecting your lower jaw to either side of your head, the TMJ are the hinge-joints that allow you to open and close your mouth and engage in oral function properly. Your TMJ, or jaw joints, are the most widely used joints throughout your entire body. When the actual joints or soft tissues that facilitate normal joint function become damaged, inflamed, or otherwise injured, temporomandibular joint disorder or dysfunction (TMD) occurs. TMD may affect your ability to eat and speak comfortably and can cause a range of mild to debilitating symptoms, such as jaw pain, facial or neck pain, and migraines, among other issues.
Board-certified oral surgery specialist Dr. Michael Kuzmik has specialized training and expertise in treating TMD and its related symptoms. Using an advanced diagnostic approach, he can evaluate your jaw joint health and recommend treatment options to restore your comfort and treat your condition. Treatment options for TMD often include palliative care, occlusal (bite) adjustments, night guard therapy, BOTOX®, or surgery for severe cases. If you have TMJ pain or other symptoms of TMD, Dr. Kuzmik and our team can help. Contact one of our Virginia oral and maxillofacial practices today to reserve your TMJ consultation.
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A number of factors are known to contribute to the onset of TMD; however, the exact cause of the condition is unknown. TMJ problems may be brought on or exacerbated by bruxism (habitual teeth clenching or grinding), misaligned teeth, facial trauma, or parafunctional habits like gum chewing and biting on foreign objects. In other patients, a tumor in the temporomandibular joint, genetics, or arthritis may lead to the development of TMD. Some cases of the jaw joint condition present with no obvious causative factors. No matter the source behind your TMD symptoms, Dr. Kuzmik is here to assist you. A personalized TMJ evaluation with our specialist can help determine the potential source behind your condition and provide you with an appropriate diagnosis and treatment plan.
TMD may result in minor occasional pain or daily severe discomfort. Some of the most common signs and symptoms of TMD are clicking or popping sounds when opening or closing your mouth, limited opening, discomfort when biting or chewing, jaw pain or tenderness, and head, neck, or shoulder pain. Other symptoms often include frequent headaches or earaches and tinnitus (ringing in the ear). In many cases, these signs and symptoms will not go away without treatment. Visiting an oral surgeon trained in TMD care may help improve the health of your jaw joints, comfort, and overall well-being.
What To Expect
Dr. Kuzmik will begin your TMD consultation by evaluating your jaw joint function and reviewing any signs and symptoms. He will also ask you questions to help determine the source of your TMJ issues. During the exam, he will evaluate for evidence of teeth grinding, an uneven bite, and restorations that may be interfering with how your upper and lower teeth fit together. Dr. Kuzmik will then palpate the joint and surrounding muscles for tenderness or swelling and listen for audible sounds when you open, close, and slide your jaw from side-to-side.
To help Dr. Kuzmik make a diagnosis, we may take low-radiation radiographic images, such as x-rays, 3-D Cone Beam images, or an MRI. He may also recommend a bite analysis to fully understand your condition and create the treatment plan best-suited to address your jaw joint issue. Treatment options may include palliative care, BOTOX® injections, oral appliance therapy (night guards), and restorative dentistry. More severe cases of TMD or TMJ damage may be treated with orthodontics or jaw surgery.
As part of your treatment plan, Dr. Kuzmik may suggest a range of palliative therapies to minimize the symptoms of your TMD condition. Palliative care includes the use of hot and cold compresses, relaxation strategies, and eating a soft food diet. We also recommend that you avoid habits like gum chewing and eating ice to minimize the strain on your jaw joints and muscles. Specific jaw-strengthening exercises and stretches may also be suggested to reduce muscle tension. Depending on your individual situation, Dr. Kuzmik may prescribe medications to control joint inflammation, jaw and facial pain, or anxiety.
During and after your TMJ treatment process, Dr. Kuzmik may schedule follow-up visits at our practice and make other recommendations as needed. He may also collaborate with your general dentist so that we can continue to monitor your TMJ symptoms and jaw joint health. More severe cases or those that are not responding to treatment may require a different course of action. Throughout your TMJ treatment, it is important to visit your general dentist for routine cleanings and exams and to maintain meticulous daily home care.
Insurance coverage for TMD treatments can vary among plans and providers. Our administrative staff will contact your insurance provider to learn about your coverage before beginning your treatment. If you do not have dental insurance or if your insurance coverage is limited, we are happy to work with you to help you find ways to cover your TMD care. Our team will review any out-of-pocket expenses and inform you of our convenient payment options, including third-party financing with CareCredit®.
Advanced TMD Treatments
TMD can cause debilitating symptoms that impact your ability to function normally and enjoy a comfortable smile. With care from a qualified specialist, TMD symptoms and contributing factors can be addressed and managed for an improved quality of living. To learn more about your options for treating TMD and reestablishing jaw joint health, schedule an appointment with Dr. Kuzmik at one of our Virginia practice locations.