TMJ Dentist Waltham and Metro Boston
As anyone looking into the topic probably notices, understanding TMJ is very convoluted. Even the name is disputed. Is it properly called TMD or TMJ? At Aesthetic Smile Reconstruction, we try to make the process simple to understand. Although there are many different philosophies and opinions, our practice takes a comprehensive approach which encompasses all the leading philosophies and treatments.
Early in his career, Dr. Sutera was very fortunate to receive direct mentorship from some of the founding fathers in the specialty of TMJ, Dr. Jeffery Okeson and Dr. Robert Kerstein. He then went on to complete training at the renowned L.D. Pankey institute. This diverse education background has enabled him to become a leading TMJ expert, and have an understanding of the entire spectrum of TMJ symptoms and treatment.
So what is TMJ pain?
TMJ symptoms most commonly present as soreness upon biting, headaches, or jaw discomfort. Symptoms usually are created by a lack of harmony between the patient’s bite, muscles, and/or temporal mandibular joint. For example, if the position of the teeth puts strain on the temporal mandibular joint or the muscles around it, over time the strain causes pain. When the harmony of these three structures is improved, the TMJ symptoms improve.
It may sound overwhelming, but it really isn’t as complicated as it may seem. It is best to understand TMD as a continuum based on two criteria. The first is the degree a patient is out of TMJ harmony. The second criteria is how long have the symptoms been left untreated. These two criteria will dictate the treatment needed and will also dictate the amount of improvement that is reasonably achievable.
So what’s treatment like?
The first step in reviewing a patient with TMJ symptoms is simply getting to know them. Dr. Sutera will obtain a sense of contributing factors from the patient’s lifestyle, work environment, prior trauma, and personality type. This not only builds rapport, but also helps to discuss any additional factors which could be linked to exacerbating the patient’s symptoms.
The second step is identifying the clinical factors that are creating the patients symptoms, and creating a treatment plan. There are many different forms of treatment. Some of the treatments which are commonly offered at our practice are an orthotic nightguard, disclusion reduction time (DTR) using T-scan technology, orthodontics, Botox, and stretching exercises. These treatments are all relatively easy, and non invasive. Within one to three visits many patients often have a significant improvement in their symptoms. The relief from symptoms often creates life changing effects for the patients happiness.