TMJ Pain: Will it get worse?

This is very common question that is asked by patients.  Last week we had a young lady who had TMJ problems including  pain, clicking and popping, headaches, and neck pain for several years, who all the sudden could not open her mouth anymore.   Due to her busy lifestyle and 2 kids, no treatment or evaluation was completed until it had worsened to the next stage. Will it get worse is what patients who do not undergo treatment usually ask.  The way for a TMJ dentist to be able to answer this question is by a thorough and complete evaluation.  This does not mean only palpating the muscles and having the patient open and close.  Neuromuscular Dentistry computerized electronography that allows us to determine whether the pain is muscular only, if there is soft tissue and ligament damage or if there is degenerative joint disease (DJD).  CT scans (3D picture of the joint) can be utilized to see if there are bony changes of the joint head and to see where it is positioned.  Additionally, a postural evaluation should be done as well to determine if there are neck changes and/or forward head posture.   Using these parameters should provide some insight as to whether the problem will progress or can be managed.  Those TMJ pain patients who reveal only musculature problems might be able to be managed with the use of a nighttime appliance.  If there is DJD the patient mentioned above had, then the  TMJ problem will most likely get worse over time.  Another cue is worn teeth.  If the teeth are really worn down then it means the teeth are paying the price and maybe not the joint. In overview, a comprehensive evaluation is indicated to determine the scope of the TMJ problem.  Very similar to having a knee or back problem. Some require treatment and some can be managed. If you have any questions about Houston TMJ treatment or Houston Cosmetic Dentistry, please call our office as we welcome your inquiries.  Ronald W. Konig DDS, FAGD, LVIF, a Houston Dentist713-668-2289

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