Good dental health is connected to proper functioning of muscles and joints of the mouth, which in turn makes for good physical and emotional health. This is the guiding principle of neuromuscular dentistry. Dr. Ira L. Shapira is a dedicated Chicago neuromuscular dentist who stresses the importance of overall health, including treatments for the TMJ system.
To learn more about TMJ treatment and how it can keep your mouth healthy, please call North Shore Sleep Dentistry today at (847) 533-8313 to schedule a consultation. Dr. Shapira sees patients from Lake Forest and other communities in the Chicago metropolitan area.
What Is Involved in TMJ Treatment?
If you suffer from TMD (temporomandibular disorder), the joint connecting your upper and lower jaw has been damaged and/or misaligned. Though this disc-like mechanism is very small, dysfunction can cause big problems, including frequent headaches and chronic facial pain.
The best treatment for TMD will depend on your symptoms and the severity of dysfunction. Common options include:
- Oral appliances
- TENS therapy (transcutaneous electrical neuromuscular stimulation)
- Lifestyle changes
Many patients who suffer from TMD experience diminished quality of life as the joint continues to deteriorate. Therefore, TMJ treatment seeks to eliminate pain and other symptoms while restoring the ability to lead a happy, normal life free from this discomfort.
TMJ Treatment Options
Some dentists treat TMJ dysfunction with muscle relaxants and other drugs. However, a chemical approach treats only the symptoms of TMD. Instead of drugs, Dr. Shapira commonly recommends a custom oral appliance, or orthotic, to be worn at night.
Designed like a retainer, an oral appliance fits along one or both rows of teeth. When you wear the appliance overnight, it protects the teeth from damage caused by grinding and also diminishes the force exerted on the TMJ. By relieving pressure on the nerves, facial pain and headaches are also reduced.
The TENS unit, meanwhile, is a small device that emits targeted, low-voltage electrical pulses to ease tense muscles into a healthy, relaxed state. By triggering muscular reflex, the overworked jaw muscles pump out lactic acid and other waste materials while taking in healthy blood and oxygen.
For patients who require extensive oral reconstruction for proper jaw function, a DNA appliance® could be a viable alternative to braces and other methods of repositioning teeth and the jaw. Using a process called epigenetic orthodontics, the DNA appliance® harnesses natural cell growth to correct the placement of teeth and the bite.
Lifestyle Adjustments for TMJ Function
In addition to suitable medical devices, Dr. Shapira might recommend practices you can do at home to reduce the impact of TMD symptoms. These suggestions could include:
- Incorporating more soft foods in your diet
- Limiting range of motion in the jaw to avoid putting stress on the joints and muscles
- Alternating hot and cold compresses on the face
- Physical therapy exercises to eliminate tension and relieve stress
To find out more about TMJ treatment options, please contact North Shore Sleep Dentistry or call (847) 533-8313 today to schedule an appointment. Our TMD dentist serves patients in and around the North Shore area of Chicago.