What is a “TMJ Dentist”? TMJ Disorders and TMJ Treatment Explained

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“For the record: There is no such thing as a “TMJ Dentist”. 

Confused? Here’s why: All Alberta dentists have been in dental school to become certified General Dentists, but there is actually no specific education to become a certified dentist for TMJ treatments. For that reason, the Alberta Dental Association (ADA), doesn’t allow Alberta dentists to present themselves as anything they’re not. Nevertheless, every general dentist and Dental Specialist can perform TMJ pain care dental treatments.

Nevertheless, the expression “TMJ dental care” refers to a dental professional who provides TMJ diagnostic evaluations and Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) disorder treatment. 

One more time: There is no such thing as a “Calgary TMJ Dentist”. Just remember this: When you are suffering from a TMJ disorder, at Dentalife we might be able to help you with your TMJ pain related problems.”

                                       Dr. Curtis Westersund, General Dentist and TMJ Practitioner in Calgary

What are common TMJ symptoms?

Common symptoms of TMJ disorders include:

  • Jaw pain or tenderness
  • Difficulty or discomfort while chewing
  • Aching pain in and around your ear
  • Facial pain
  • Difficulty opening or closing the mouth completely
  • Locking of the joint, making it difficult to open or close the mouth
  • Clicking or popping sounds in the jaw joint when opening or closing the mou
  • A change in the way the upper and lower teeth fit together
  • Nighttime sleep breathing problems
  • Neck pain
  • Back and hip pain

What are common TMJ causes?

TMJ disorders can be caused by various factors, including:

  • Grinding or clenching the teeth related to an improper bite or jaw position
  • Chronic strain on the disc, or soft cushion, between the ball and socket of the joint
  • Bony changes in the jaw joint
  • Nighttime breathing issues which can cause a person to tighten facial and jaw muscles or clench their teeth while they sleep
  • A sudden injury to the jaw, the joint, or the muscles of the head and neck
  • A long standing strain to the body
  • Chronic daytime and nighttime breathing issues (that patients are rarely aware of)

How does TMJ treatment work?

A TMJ disorder practitioner may provide various treatments based on the severity of the symptoms and the underlying cause. These might include:

  • Treatments that may temporarily relieve pain, reduce inflammation, or relax the muscles.
  • TMJ Therapies: Body misalignment therapies that help reduce imbalance and subsequent strain to the head, neck, and teeth. Therapies that assist in solve nighttime breathing problems. Therapies that support jaw and TMJ freedom of movement.
  • Supportive Therapies: Some orthodontic therapies and restorative therapies can support the continued functional and alignment gains found in the TMJ therapies.

Is TMJ Treatment expensive?

The cost of TMJ treatment can vary greatly depending on the severity of the disorder and the treatment approach. Simple treatments cost less that complicated therapies. But remember, TMJ effective care is not about a thing. TMJ care is more that getting some magical “nightguard” or muscle injections. TMJ solutions are THERAPIES that requires time and monitoring to allow the patient to heal. And TMJ problems are not just caused by teeth. The whole body is in play with every TMJ disorder. Every dental patient ever treated comes to the dental office as a complete person … teeth to toes. No one comes for treatment with just a head. The patient comes to their appointments with a complete body. That complete body works in an integrated and coordinated fashion to live. What happens in the teeth can, and does, affect the patient’s whole body function. This has to be assessed properly and often other healthcare providers are used to assist the dentist in their treatments and therapies. 

All of this all starts with a thorough consultation that looks at all problems a patient may have, including headaches, migraines, ringing in the ears, neck pain, stomach / intestinal distress, hypertension and beyond.

Can a dentist help me get rid of my TMJ pain?

Dr. Curtis Westersund, General dentist and TMJ treatment/therapy provider in Calgary:

The best answer to this question is: Possibly, but there’s never a guarantee. At Dentalife, we have experience treating a variety of TMJ problems. Healing depends upon a multitude of factors like: The condition of your physical health, oral health, teeth, and possible underlying health concerns.

The best way forward is to schedule a TMJ Diagnosis Evaluation. This is a mandatory exercise before any TMJ treatment plan can be created to determine the issues with your situation. Are you suffering from TMJ pain right now? Don’t wait. Because waiting with medical treatment never makes things better. Actually, it usually makes things worse…”

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