The holiday season brings both joy and stress to our busy lives- shopping, cooking and a hectic schedule can leave us feeling overwhelmed! For those who suffer with a temporomandibular disorder (TMD), commonly called TMJ, the added stress of the holiday season can increase teeth grinding and other symptoms of TMJ.
Stress is a common factor in TMJ, frequently causing patients to clench their jaw or teeth, grind their teeth and experience increased tension in the jaw and the temporomandibular joint (the TMJ).
Dr. Leonard Hess, a Charlotte area cosmetic dentist, has extensive post graduate education and specialized training in the treatment of bite disorders such as TMJ. Dr. Hess recently became a senior faculty member at The Dawson Academy where he teaches his peers the latest techniques in the treatment of bite disorders such as TMJ. Dr. Hess is the dentist at Union County Center for Comprehensive Dentistry, serving the Matthews and Charlotte areas.
The successful treatment of TMJ can be complex and providing long term results relies on the proper diagnosis of the underlying imbalance in the bite. Dr. Hess uses a digital technology called Tekscan (T-scan) to evaluate the precision and force of a patient’s bite : patients bite down on a sensor and 3-D images are created which can be used to analyze their bite and identify areas of imbalance. Dr. Hess will also perform a thorough evaluation of a patient’s entire occlusal system before creating a customized treatment plan.
There are a wide variety of procedures and treatments that can be used for TMD, starting with the use of a night guard to prevent teeth grinding. This conservative approach is often effective in relieving the symptoms of TMJ and preventing damage to the teeth or TMJ.
For patients who have damaged teeth- either from the TMD or as a root cause- Dr. Hess may recommend a restorative procedure to realign the teeth. This may involve reshaping the teeth with tooth bonding or crowns, realigning the teeth with orthodontics, or replacing missing teeth. All of these possible treatments will restore balance in the occlusal system.
TMJ can often be painful and affect a patient’s lifestyle: disrupted sleep, headaches, and painful chewing can diminish a patient’s ability to enjoy the food, fun and festivities of the holiday season.