Seattle Treatments for TMJ Disorders

If you experience chronic headaches, muscle pain, or popping and clicking in your jaw, you could have a condition known as TMJ disorder (also called “TMJ” , “TMD” or “TMJD.”) TMJ disorders can be difficult to manage in some cases – especially on your own.

Living with TMJ pain can make it impossible to eat your favorite food, open your mouth during a dental check-up, or even chew a stick of gum.  

Thankfully, there are dentists in Seattle with extra training in TMJ management like Dr. Lance Timmerman DMD, who can help you manage or reverse your uncomfortable TMJ symptoms.

What Makes Dr. Timmerman Different

Most of our TMJ patients come to us from other dental offices. Because Dr. Timmerman is uniquely trained, he’s here to help patients that haven’t found relief through traditional splint therapy or conventional dental care.

 
 

What is TMJ Disorder, or TMJD? 

TMJ disorder is a problem that originates inside of the actual jaw joint. When opening or closing, the disc inside of the joint may pop out of place, or the mandible is simply physically blocked from operating normally. Most people endure their TMJ pain and symptoms until they become more severe and interfere with everyday activities.

 
 

Causes of TMJ Disorders

TMJ can be caused from any number of factors, including things like:

  • Crooked or crowded teeth
  • Irregular bites – such as overbites or underbites
  • Clenching
  • Grinding / Bruxism
  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Trauma – such as an automobile accident or sporting injury
  • Aggressive dental treatment, like surgical extractions
  • Orthodontic therapy 

Development of TMJ disorder can be a cumulative cycle. What starts out as irritation from clenching your teeth together can be amplified by an irregular biting relationship. Compromising your upper and lower jaw to make them fit together as you chew will place strain on your TMJ, leading to pain, popping and discomfort.

However, some severe forms of TMJ, like the ones managed by Dr. Timmerman, may be due to internal and structural damage to the TMJ itself. That’s why conventional treatments don’t work.

"Living with TMJ disorder and avoiding treatment can cause long-term consequences and joint damage. TMJ disorder is something that does not go away on its own. In fact, it can damage your smile, wear out your teeth, create long-term muscle stiffness and tension, and lead to pain when you open and close your mouth."
—Dr. Lance Timmerman

Symptoms that TMJ Patients Experience

Symptoms of TMJ disorder can spread from the jaw all the way into the head, face, neck, shoulders, back, and fingertips (constriction of the brachial plexus). As muscle tension becomes more severe, you may find that TMJ pain becomes worse and more difficult to manage. A lot of people find themselves experiencing headaches throughout the day, jaw pain when they wake up in the morning, or sore neck and shoulder muscles.

A dentist trained SPECIFICALLY to manage the TMJ is one of the only ways to break the cycle of constant  pain when other treatments don’t work.

Common side effects and symptoms of TMJ disorders include: 

  • Ear pain and ringing (tinnitus)
  • Cracked, broken or worn dental fillings and crowns
  • Broken teeth
  • Tooth sensitivity
  • Migraines and chronic headaches
  • Muscle fatigue
  • Muscle pain
  • Jaws that click or pop when opening and closing
  • Locking of the jaw
  • Vertigo (dizziness)
  • Shooting pains through the face or head
  • Pain behind the eyes
  • Limited jaw opening and closing
  • Loose teeth
  • Sore teeth

Eliminating TMJ disorder can erase the pain and discomfort felt during everyday activities like eating a meal, talking, chewing gum or waking up with a headache.

"TMJ is a serious issue and I start by an extensive TMJ examination and analysis, including including diagnostic x-rays and imaging of the TMJ itself. Then I will review all of your symptoms with you to address your most severe symptoms and concerns first. This way you can get fast TMJ pain relief. Don't lose hope, there are solutions and I can help you."
—Dr. Lance Timmerman

Treatment Options for People with TMJ

Depending on the extent and severity of your TMJ disorder, a number of different Seattle TMJ treatments and therapies can be used. But Seattle dentist Dr. Lance Timmerman oversees the care of treating the most extensive, painful  cases – situations where splint therapy just isn’t enough. 

What Options Can I Try Before Seeking Out  Surgery?

  • Alternating warm and cold compresses against your jaw to alleviate pain and discomfort.
  • Taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication to reduce swelling in and around the TMJ.
  • Prescribing a muscle relaxer or pain medication to temporarily alleviate discomfort.
  • Avoiding chewing gum or hard foods that cause extra tension in the jaw joint.
  • Implementing a therapeutic TMJ bite splint to correct the way the teeth bite together – and to reduce strain on the TMJ.
  • Use of injectables neurotoxins, such as Botox, into muscles affected by TMJ issues to relax the jaw muscles for a few months at a time.
  • Orthodontic therapy to correct the biting relationship of the upper and lower jaws, thus reducing strain and compromised function of the TMJ.
  • Neuromuscular therapy visits to a TMJ dentist in Seattle.
  • Massage, palpation or physical therapy.

If bruxism, clenching or grinding is contributing your TMJ disorder, the best thing to do is to prevent the constant grinding of the teeth together. Wearing a therapeutic appliance will place a buffer between the teeth so that you cannot clench or grind them in your sleep, or on your drive home from work. Most people begin to see relief from clenching and grinding TMJ symptoms within a few days of wearing a therapeutic bite splint. However, the splint MUST be created in a physiologically balanced position (boil and bite appliances don’t help and arbitrary appliances that many dentists use can make the condition worse).

However, if you have true, severe TMJ disorder – then you need to seek out professional  treatment with our Seattle dentist.

Our Diagnostic Procedure

  • Dr. Timmerman’s extensive examination process and diagnostic imaging steps will allow him to create a care plan to address these concerns.
  • Dr. Timmerman will thoroughly evaluate factors including:
    • The physical range of motion in your TMJ
    • Anatomical findings through x-rays and 3D imaging
    • Points of contact between your upper and lower teeth
    • Deviation side to side when you open and close your mouth
    • Popping, clicking, or locking of the jaw joint
    • Alignment of the upper and lower jaw
    • Wear to your teeth and existing restorations

Finding a doctor that is experienced in complex TMJ treatments can help you avoid the constant pain and fatigue that TMJ disorder has on your life.

Finding a Qualified Dentist in Seattle to Treat Your TMJ Condition

Scheduling an extensive, detailed  exam can give you the answers you need and the chance to make a plan to fix your TMJ problems.

But not just any dentist can help! Choosing a Seattle advanced specialist like Dr. Lance Timmerman means you can trust that you are getting the best TMJ therapy possible.

Call Dr. Timmerman today to schedule a TMJ exam and diagnostic images at his Seattle dental office. Sedation options available. It’s time to live life pain-free again!