Can You Relate?

I have patients who tell me they are experiencing unexplained pain in their jaw, face, neck and shoulders. They don’t know what could be causing it, and don’t know who to ask for help.

When I tell them they are most likely suffering from temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD) and that I can treat their symptoms, they are relieved to know there is a solution for their discomfort. Can you identify with any of these symptoms? Click here to learn more about the common symptoms of TMD.

TMD Symptoms

TMD is a pain in the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), which connects the lower jaw to the skull. When the TMJ is not functioning properly, it can cause the following symptoms:

  • Pain in the jaw, face, and ear that can travel to the neck and shoulders when chewing, talking or yawning
  • Popping, clicking or grating noises when jaw joint moves
  • Jaw may become “locked” open or can not fully open
  • Top teeth don’t align with bottom teeth, making it feel like your bite is “off”

What causes TMD?

Are you unsure of what could be causing your TMJ pain? Take a look at this list and see if you identify with any of these issues:

  • Grinding of the teeth (bruxism): Grinding teeth results in stress on the TMJ, muscle spasms and inflammation which leads to pain. Over time, this habit can wear down teeth and lead to bite misalignment. The result is that the TMJ changes and doesn’t function properly.
  • Teeth clenching: Constant clenching of the teeth causes stress on the TMJ. Stress is often blamed for tension in the jaw, which leads to the clenched jaw.
  • Osteoarthritis: The jaw joint can break down due to this degenerative joint disease. It causes a slow deterioration of cartilage.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis: This chronic inflammatory disorder causes inflammation of the joint and can affect the TMJ.

The good news is you don’t have suffer with pain any longer. At Dentistry by Angela Britt, we help TMD patients get the relief they need with solutions to prevent further TMD symptoms. Please contact our office today for a consultation.

Where Has Dr. Souther Been?

We mentioned on our Facebook page that we would reveal where Dr. Souther has been. As you know, we recently welcomed her to our practice. Just as she got settled into our offices though, we sent her on the road to attend dental training seminars in Las Vegas and Jacksonville. Find out more about her travels here.

We strive to keep up to date on the latest technology and techniques in dentistry so we can provide cutting-edge dental care for our patients. Dr. Souther was happy to take the opportunity, and we look forward to sharing what she has learned with you at your next visit.

First stop, Dr. Souther attended the Las Vegas Institute for Advanced Dental Studies, the world’s premier post-graduate dental education center, where she spent her time training on advanced dentistry techniques. Exciting and rewarding were the two words Dr. Souther used to describe her experience at LVI. What stood out the most was the deep dive into advanced understanding of sleep apnea and how we as dentists can help those who suffer with sleep disorders. It’s remarkable how we can help improve the lives of patients, and we only know how to do this by staying on top of current treatments.

Next stop, the American Academy of Facial Esthetics in Jacksonville. What does facial esthetics have to do with dentistry, you ask? Quite a lot! They complement cosmetic dental treatments and help treat temporomandibular disorders (TMD) and migraine symptoms. For example, Botox has a clinical use, such as retraining facial muscles affected by dental problems. Dr. Souther couldn’t be more excited to provide patients with an added level of service and expertise that she gained from this course.

At Dentistry by Angela Britt, we regularly invest in continuing education and training because we care about our patients and delivering the best outcomes possible. Ask us how we incorporate our continuing education and training into our dental services at your next visit. There’s so much we can do to help you have a healthy and beautiful smile. We look forward to seeing you soon.

Bite Disease Treatment for TMJ Disorder versus Botox

woman sitting in dentist chair holding jaw in pain from TMJ

I am sure a lot of you have seen advertisements or articles on treating TMJ disorder with Botox. While both methods can be used to reduce or eliminate pain, I want to take this opportunity to talk about the differences between the two methods.

Botulinum toxin, known as Botox, is a manufactured injectable medication used therapeutically to reduce the strength of targeted muscle tissue. The FDA approved the use of botulinum toxin as a first line treatment for chronic migraine in February 2011. It takes the toxin approximately 2 hours to bind to the nerve and approximately 2-10 days from injection to exert it’s clinical effect. Re-treatment is most common between 3 to 6 months with a small percentage going considerably longer. Botox is used to treat some symptoms associated with TMJ disorder by injecting the toxin directly into the jaw muscle, thus paralyzing the muscle in order to reduce the pain. This method alleviates or reduces pain by masking the real problem for TMJ disorder, a bad bite.

Changing a bad bite into a neuromuscular or physiologic bite can treat the primary cause of the pain. TMJ is a common term used to describe temperomandibular joint or the jaw joints. When the joints, the muscles of the head and neck and the teeth are not in harmony, pain can develop. Symptoms such as headaches, vertigo, ringing in the ears, jaw pain, neck pain, sensitive teeth, just to list a few, can be associated with TMJ disorder. A bite computer can be used to determine the optimal bite position and an orthotic fabricated to reposition the jaw joints, thus decompressing the joints and alleviating the pain. This method determines the cause of the pain while also providing a solution for symptoms.

Treating TMJ disorder with neuromuscular dentistry or Botox injections for facial cosmetics.

If you or anyone you know would like more information give us a call at 912-264-5550 to schedule an appointment to determine if your face or neck pain may be caused by TMJ disorder and a misaligned bite.

We can get your Bite right!
Dr. Angela Britt

Migraines a symptom of bad bite

woman with fingers at her temples in pain with a migraine

Did you know migraines can be a symptom of a bad bite?

For many people, migraine headaches are a “normal” part of their life. Medications can be used to stop or manage the pain, but the source of the pain is not always determined. Most people don’t think about mentioning headaches or facial muscle pain to their dentist but this type of pain is a common symptom of TMD (Temporomandibular Disorder), also know as TMJ Disorder.

So how does a bad bite fit into this scenario? The position of the jaw joint is determined by how the teeth fit together. If the teeth don’t fit together properly or are not in harmony with the muscles, the muscles and joints accommodate. The misaligned bite often leads to muscles that are in a “tug of war” between teeth coming together thousands of times a day and a relaxed position. This causes fatigue and can lead to headaches.

There are many other symptoms that can be associated with a bad bite. These may include:

  • Jaw joint noise or clicking
  • Limited jaw opening
  • Teeth grinding
  • Neck pain
  • Pain in and around the ear
  • Ringing in the ear
  • Vertigo
  • Numbness radiating down into the arm

By decompressing the TMJ joints and determining an optimal position for the bite, symptoms like the ones listed can be improved and many times, totally eliminated.

Not only does this work for patients with teeth, but the same concept can be used for denture wearers as well.

If you or someone you love is suffering from unexplained headaches, call 912-264-5550 today for a neuromuscular consultation.

Facts on Fibromyalgia, Chronic Pain and TMJ Disorder

woman in pain holding her jaw

Did you know that patients who are diagnosed with fibromyalgia commonly have temporomandibular joint dysfunction as well? According to research administered by the National Institutes of Health, fibromyalgia patients have a high incidence of TMJ disorder and exhibit classic TMJ symptoms such as clicking or popping sounds during mouth movement, along with facial pain and muscle pain in the head and neck.

Fibromyalgia is a painful and often debilitating disease. For some people the pain can be so intense, it gives sufferers incapacitating migraines. Patients with fibromyalgia typically experience deep, radiating pain throughout their bodies, especially near joints. Those with fibromyalgia can also experience stiffness and difficulty moving. It is common for migraine medications to be prescribed for these symptoms, offering very little or no relief. That is because the headaches and pains are a result of temporomandibular joint disorder, or a misaligned jaw. Other symptoms of a misaligned jaw or bad bite are ringing in the ear, pain in the face, neck shoulder and back, vertigo or dizziness, tingling or numbness in the fingers, ear pain or stuffiness, TMJ pain and migraine or chronic headaches.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) studied the symptoms of 60 male and female patients with fibromyalgia. Nearly 70% of patients experienced facial pain near the TMJs while 35% of the study’s participants reported TMJ disorder symptoms such as difficulty opening the mouth and discomfort when eating. The NIH concluded that patients diagnosed with fibromyalgia should also be tested for TMJ disorder.

Physiologic dentists are trained in dealing with disorders of the jaw, nerves and muscles in the neck and head, and can help in reducing and even eliminating this type of pain. In order to relieve these symptoms, a bite computer called the K7 is used to determine the optimal position for the jaw joints, muscles and teeth. A custom device called an orthotic is designed for placement over the teeth to reposition the jaw and create a balanced bite. This treatment is also indicated for relief of the other symptoms associated with a bad bite. Physiologic treatment for TMJ disorder is nonsurgical and can be life changing!

Schedule a consultation with me to discuss your symptoms and how to become medication and pain free today!