Are you suffering from headaches, facial pain or jaw pain? Are your teeth worn, rough along the edges, or has there been a change in the fit of your dentures? Answering yes to any of these questions may be an indication 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 for a majority of dental problems. He has focused a considerable amount of his post graduate training to 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 the 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 through 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 disfunction 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 jaw
- Poor range of motion in the jaw joints, or locked jaw
- Teeth grinding or clenching, often accompanied by tooth wear
- Chronic earaches
Mouth Guard/Splint Therapy
In some cases, Dr. Hess may use a mouth guard or dental splint to alleviate specific symptoms of TMJ disorder. Often times, the mouth guard or splint is used early in treatment and is not needed as a long term solution. A dental split can be helpful to help identify 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 allows the jaw to open and close in its proper position and eliminate stress on the joints and resulting 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 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 and Headaches
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?
Women and people between the ages of 20 and 40 are most likely to experience headaches and facial pain as a result of TMD.
TMJ Headache Treatment
Dr. Hess offers a wide a range of solutions for patients seeking a cure for TMJ headaches. 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.
To correct an imbalance that is the cause of TMJ and subsequent headaches, Dr. Hess may suggest the use of a mouth guard to prevent teeth grinding or restorative procedures to realign the bite.