Arnold, MD TMJ Dentist
Since TMJ dentistry is not a recognized specialty, it wouldn’t be accurate to say that Dr. Esposito or any dentist is a TMJ specialist. However, it’s important to know that TMJ care is complicated and requires advanced training. Dr. Esposito is a graduate of the Dawson Academy where she studied TMJ therapy and complex restorative dentistry. She also continues to take courses on this subject from Spear Education in Arizona. She has years of experience relieving TMJ pain. TMJ disorders are common, and treatment can improve your quality of life.
Understanding TMJ Disorders
The temporomandibular joint, or TMJ, is located where your jawbone meets your skull. You have two of these joints, one slightly in front of each ear. The TMJ allows you to move your jaw in two different ways (rotating and sliding) when you chew and talk. Inside the joint is a tiny disc of cartilage that cushions it.
If you have a bite that is not properly aligned, it can trigger muscle spasms around this joint, a condition called TMJ dysfunction. Also, sometimes the disc is out of place or has deteriorated, causing grinding and pain where the jawbone and skull meet.
When we evaluate your TMJ pain, we’ll examine your mouth and jaw and ask about your health history. If necessary, we may take a 3-D x-ray of your jaw with our CBCT x-ray in the office.
TMJ Disorder Symptoms
If you have TMJ disorder, you’re probably in pain. The pain might be constant or occur only when you move your mouth. Headaches are a hallmark of TMJ dysfunction. Sometimes the pain radiates from the ear through the neck and face. For these reasons, TMJ issues can be debilitating.
Moving your jaw can be a problem, too—TMJ disorders can limit the jaw’s range of motion or even cause it to lock. Sometimes TMJ sufferers have a deviated bite, so their teeth don’t meet correctly. Symptoms can come on suddenly or be chronic.
TMJ Dentist Treatment Options
Our priority when treating TMJ patients is to relieve pain. Conservative treatment options start with a nightguard to stop you from grinding your teeth while you sleep. One type is a traditional flat plane splint, which prevents your upper teeth from touching your lower teeth. Another is an NTI, which only covers the front teeth but significantly reduces overall bite force. Dr. Esposito may also recommend physical therapy to provide immediate and long-term relief. Other treatments that help TMJ pain include:
- Avoiding hard foods
- Application of moist heat
- Relaxation techniques, such as gentle massage
For patients with severe TMJ pain, it may be necessary to correct the bite with full-mouth reconstruction. This treatment usually involves work on each tooth. Dr. Esposito uses occlusal analysis to design treatment plans to relieve TMJ pain. This is particularly complex work, so she works with Bay View Dental Lab, a member of The Dawson Academy Accredited Laboratory Association.
If you have been diagnosed with TMJ or have jaw pain, you can schedule an appointment with Dr. Esposito by calling 410-757-6200. If you’d like us to call you, just fill out this form.