What are the first signs of TMJ?
The first signs of temporomandibular joint disorder
(TMD) or orofacial pain are often clicking or popping
noises in the jaw joint, limited or abnormal jaw opening,
pain when chewing or talking, jaw pain or discomfort,
pain in the facial muscles, earaches, and headaches.
The growing interest in TMD disorder is explained,
in part, by the fact that more than half of all physician
visits are for head pain.
Are there any particular group of individuals
who are more likely to get TMD?
The most common group of individuals who manifest
symptoms of TMD are women 60-70% over men, usually
in the 20 – 50 year old age group. However,
TMD is also common in children, as well as senior
citizens, and crosses all socioeconomic boundaries.
Is TMD more likely to be hereditary or acquired?
There are more acquired factors that can cause TMD
symptoms (i.e. trauma, whiplash injury, clenching
and grinding of the teeth, failure to replace missing
teeth, bad habits such as chewing on nails, pencils,
lips, and posture, etc.). However, hereditary factors
causing TMD signs and
symptoms are also abundant.
What are the treatment options?
Because TMD symptoms can be so varied and mimic so
many other conditions, the most important step in
evaluating a possible TMD patient is to make a proper
diagnosis. Once diagnosed, treatment for TMD is relatively
simple. Again, however, because of the vast and
varied number of possible symptoms, a dentist specially
trained in the diagnosis and treatment of TMD is necessary
to prescribe the appropriate type of treatment for
that particular patient’s
needs. Most patients require an oral orthopedic appliance
(or splint), designed specifically for each patient’s
individually diagnosed symptoms. This splint is made
of clear acrylic and usually fits over the upper teeth.
For the muscular component of the TMD, physical therapy
(i.e. ultrasound, massage, exercise therapy) is usually
required. Patient education on how to protect the
temporomandibular joint and how to prevent future
occurrences should also always be provided. In some
cases, when indicated to help relax muscles, manage
pain, and help reduce stress, medications (i.e. anti-inflammatory
and muscle relaxants), and stress reduction (i.e.
bio-feedback) are also incorporated into the treatment.
Once the symptoms are alleviated and the jaw and muscles
are stabilized (healed to their best potential), the
patient is usually provided with a nightguard. In
only a very small percentage of instances, and only
after conservative treatment (splint and physical
therapy) has been performed, will crowns, orthodontics,
or surgery be required to treat the TMD.
Is it ok to use a store bought appliance?
Store bought, nightguards, or pre-made appliances
supplied by dentists are not usually appropriate for
TMD treatment. As stated previously, oral orthopedic
appliances need to be designed and custom made for
each individual patient’s diagnoses. Store bought
appliances are made one-size-fits all and can negatively
affect or change teeth, bite, gums, and bones. Also,
as mentioned earlier, splints should be made to cover
all the teeth and need to be periodically adjusted
by the TMJ specialist
How long does treatment generally last?
Patients usually wear the splint for three to six
months full-time (during which time the splint is
adjusted approximately once every three weeks), followed
by being weaned from the splint for two to three months.
What is the best way to research or check
out the TMJ specialist?
A dentist who specializes in the treatment of TMD
should have extensive continuing education in the
field of TMD and orofacial pain, and be board certified
by an appropriate academy (i.e. American Board of
Orofacial Pain, www.AAOP.org,
American Academy of Pain Management), or they should
be a graduate from a residency program in TMD and
Is TMD treatment generally covered by insurance?
Our offices are covered by almost all of the medical insurance companies and HMO’s in the state of Wisconsin, and are exclusive providers for many of those in southeastern Wisconsin. This enables the vast majority of our patients that suffer from TMD and sleep apnea to receive insurance coverage for their treatment.
& Orofacial Pain Treatment Centers
Central Center • 2626 N. 76th Street,
Suite #101, Wauwatosa, WI 53213 •
Waukesha Center • 2727 N. Grandview
Boulevard, Suite #100, Waukesha, WI 53188
Kenosha/Racine Center • 3500 Meachem,
Racine, WI 53405 • 262-598-9901
Northeast Center • 200 W. Silver
Spring Drive, Suite #310, Milwaukee, WI
53217 • 414-962-3100
Appleton/Green Bay Center • W3132
Van Roy Road, Appleton, WI 54915 •