Preserve Your Teeth and Eliminate Pain with TMJ Therapy
By Dr. Michael J. Wei, DDS – Manhattan New York City Cosmetic Dentist
Our teeth are incredibly strong. The human bite using the molars exerts over 200 pounds of force. It’s remarkable when people who grind their teeth can withstand the pressure of the molars crushing against each other. For those with TMJ problems who don’t have cracked enamel, there may be other problems that cause pain and discomfort besides teeth grinding, also known as bruxism. New York City restorative dentist Dr. Michael J. Wei can determine what is causing your TMJ problems and design a treatment plan that will protect your bite and teeth while you sleep.
What Is TMJ?
Temporomandibular joint disorder is more commonly known as TMJ or TMD. This condition irritates the nerves and muscles and affects the area where the jawbone is attached to the skull causing common symptoms like:
- Painful chewing and speaking
- Popping or clicking jaw joints
- Painful jaw movement
- Sore teeth
- Face pain
- Difficulty opening and closing the mouth
- Chronic headaches or earaches
- Face, neck, and shoulder pain
- Numbness in the arms or fingers
TMJ also leads to aesthetic problems, such as gum recession, cracked teeth, and worn enamel, which leave sufferers far more susceptible to the development of decay and bacteria, and the need for repairs like tooth-colored fillings, root canal therapy, and porcelain crowns.
Causes of TMJ
Before embarking on the path of TMJ therapy, it’s necessary to identify the specific cause of your TMJ to ensure that the proper technique is used to alleviate the symptoms. Potential causes include:
- Jaw misalignment
- Excessive teeth grinding
- Clenching the teeth
- Cartilage recession
Non-Surgical TMJ Therapy
There are a variety of treatments designed to reduce the symptoms of TMJ disorder. The most common and effective solution is the custom-made occlusal guard, typically called a nightguard. This full-coverage nightguard is customized for your mouth so that it fits snugly on your teeth. The nightguard is created when your Midtown Manhattan dentist takes impressions of your teeth and has the guard prepared just for you by a dental lab. The nightguard minimizes any grinding sounds you exhibit while sleeping. Plus, it protects both the upper and the lower teeth from pressing against each other. The nightguard is usually clear. It’s noticeable and will take a little adjustment for the wearer, but a slightly cumbersome occlusal device on your teeth is far preferable to damaged teeth and continuing pain.
The NTI device is a small oral appliance that is designed to be worn on the two lower or two upper front teeth. This type of guard not only protects teeth from the grinding problem during sleep, it also stops the clenching behavior by preventing the molars from touching. The NTI device triggers a nerve reflex that relaxes the muscles responsible for the strong clenching of the teeth. Ideally, you can condition your mouth to stop its bad habit.
Some patients with jaw misalignment opt for orthodontic treatment like Invisalign. This not only gives them a flawless, straight smile, it eliminates the misalignment problem that is causing the TMJ. This treatment, however, requires patience.
Find a Solution for Your TMJ with Your Manhattan Dentist
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of TMJ, or if you are certain that you grind your teeth, schedule a consultation with Dr. Michael J. Wei. A restorative dentist in Midtown Manhattan, Dr. Wei will determine exactly what is going on with your oral health and devise a treatment plan to relieve your pain and protect your teeth, whether that means a customized nightguard or another form of restorative dentistry. Contact us to schedule your appointment.