Are you suffering from headaches, facial pain, or jaw pain? Are your teeth worn or rough along the edges, or has there been a change in the fit of your dentures? Answering yes to any of these questions may indicate that you have a TMJ disorder.
Specializing in Treating Occlusal Disease
Charlotte area dentist Dr. Leonard Hess is one of the nation’s leading experts in the diagnosis and treatment of TMJ disorders and occlusal disease. This condition causes problems with the teeth, jaw joints, and muscles and is the leading cause of a majority of dental problems. He has focused a considerable amount of his post-graduate training on this area of dentistry and teaches hands-on courses to other dentists and specialists who wish to further their own knowledge of TMJ-related dental problems.
Real Patient Testimonials
“I used to have headaches and muscle tension in my neck and shoulders. Dr. Hess made me a special appliance for my bite to make me comfortable. Then Dr. Hess adjusted my bite to make my teeth and muscles work better. Now all the muscle tension and headaches are gone!! Thanks, Dr. Hess”
– Cindy Boe
“I came to see Dr. Hess after years of struggling with jaw pain, a popping noise when I open, and frequent headaches in the morning. Dr. Hess did a complete TMJ exam and prescribed a splint after taking the proper measurements. I wear it at night and after one week I could tell a huge difference. I no longer have any headaches and my jaw pain has mostly disappeared. I continue to work with Dr. Hess and am confident this issue will be completely resolved.”
– C. Guptill
Every patient who visits Dr. Hess’ Monroe, NC dental office will receive a thorough evaluation that includes an occlusal analysis to study the way your teeth make contact. Using 2-D and 3-D study models of your mouth, Dr. Hess can pinpoint the source of dysfunction and create a personalized treatment plan to bring your occlusion back into harmony.
What is TMJ?
TMJ, or the temporomandibular joint, is a small joint located in front of your ears, responsible for the opening and closing of the mouth. TMJ is also commonly used to describe a temporomandibular disorder (TMD) in which the jaw joints or teeth do not fit together properly, resulting in an imbalance in the bite.
Common TMJ Symptoms
- Headaches, especially in the morning
- Tension of pain in the shoulders, neck, or face
- Clicking or popping when opening or closing the jaw
- Poor range of motion in the jaw joints, or locked jaw
- Teeth grinding or clenching, often accompanied by tooth wear
- Chronic earaches
TMJ Treatment Options in Monroe, NC
In some cases, Dr. Hess may use a mouthguard or dental splint to alleviate specific symptoms of TMJ disorder. Oftentimes, the mouthguard or splint is used early in treatment and is not needed as a long-term solution. A dental split can be helpful to help identifying a comfortable and stable bite position.
Bite Correction Therapy
In most cases, Dr. Hess will perform occlusal equilibration – or bite correct, to bring the teeth into proper contact. This will allow the jaw to open and close in its proper position and eliminate stress on the joints and resulting in pain.
A series of adjustments will be made to the teeth which may include:
- Removing tooth structure
- Applying dental crowns or porcelain veneers
- Orthodontic treatment
- Implant dentistry
If the teeth are not in the proper position, orthodontics may be needed to reposition the teeth, allowing them to fit together harmoniously. For adults who wish to avoid traditional metal braces, Dr. Hess offers invisible braces for more discreet and comfortable treatment.
If significant damage has been done to the teeth, exposing layers of teeth, restorative dentistry may be needed to bring the teeth back to their proper health and beauty. Dr. Hess may use dental crowns, porcelain veneers, or cosmetic bonding to restore teeth.
TMJ Disorder FAQs
TMJ disorders can affect almost anyone, with detrimental impacts on oral health. Learn more by reading the answers to these commonly asked questions.
How are headaches connected to a TMJ disorder?
Headaches are among the most misdiagnosed conditions in medicine. Many physicians and patients don’t make a connection between headaches and TMJ disorders. TMJ headaches are thought to be a type of tension headache, most often caused by teeth clenching or teeth grinding. Because many patients grind their teeth at night, headaches frequently occur in the morning.
Who is affected by TMJ disorders?
People between 20 and 40 are most likely to experience headaches and facial pain due to TMJ. Women are shown to be more susceptible to developing TMJ than men.
Can I alleviate TMJ symptoms at home?
In some cases, simple lifestyle changes can relieve pain. Dr. Hess can recommend stress-relieving exercises and advise patients on eliminating triggers such as chewing gum that can aggravate the TMJ joints. Jaw stretching exercises may also be helpful to increase range of motion and relieve headaches.
What is the most common treatment for TMJ?
To correct an imbalance that is the cause of TMJ and subsequent headaches, Dr. Hess may suggest using a mouthguard to prevent teeth grinding or restorative procedures to realign the bite.
Is TMJ therapy worth it?
Absolutely. Not only does it help stop inflammation, but correcting the alignment issue has lasting effects throughout your mouth. There’s less stress on the teeth, gums, and jawbone. This helps prevent further problems due to misalignment in the future, as well as pain and inflammation relief.
Can you ever fully treat TMJ?
Alleviation of symptoms can occur within a few weeks. However, certain underlying conditions can last for years, making it hard to curb them completely. Arthritis and bruxism are continuing problems that last for a long time. We aim to evolve treatment with the conditions, ensuring we stay on top and keeping you as comfortable as possible.
Schedule a Dental Exam and Consultation Today
Dr. Hess offers a wide range of solutions for patients seeking a cure for TMJ and TMD. Give us a call at 704-240-5045 today, or request a dental exam online today.