TMJ pain and issues are often complex, often involving popping and/or locking, however, most TMJ problems can be corrected non-surgically. Locking and popping jaws rarely get better on their own. This is true even for chronic case. One of the first things in line is to diagnose the condition to see what the cause is. Many times a bad bite forcing the jaw back and up can compress the disc off. This disc is the cushion between the jaw joint and the skull that allows your joints to glide over the skull socket smoothly and not rub bone on bone. The use of a 3D scan is also useful to see the joint position as well as the damage done and any neck issues too.
Some patients can manipulate their jaw to unlock them and to try and control the popping which can be painful or painless and just annoying. Continuous locking and popping can actual cause more damage to the joints and make it harder to treat as well.
So how does one treat popping and locking non-surgically? The use of Physiologic Neuromuscular Dentistry protocols allows us to find a better physiologic position for the joints and muscles which allows them to function together in a healthy manner. Generally speaking, we can break down treatment to two phases. In phase I, we reposition the jaw and muscles to the correct physiologic position to get the disc back in place, allow the muscles to relax to their normal resting position, as well as work with any cervical issues that are playing a role in the disharmony. Most of the time, at this phase the popping and locking is resolved very quickly! The second phase, will involve long term non-surgical stabilization of the newly acquired physiologic position of the jaw and muscles. Please note that Phase I was a “test drive” and the patients know that they feel better.
Conventional orthodontic treatment will not solve these problems as this simply straightens teeth. It is so important to know where you are going before treatment so as to be able to help with the damage that occurs with popping and locking. In the same manner, this helps with most headaches and neckaches too. Patients are grateful to be free from years of pain and headaches.