TMJ Disorders

TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorders are a family of problems related to your complex jaw joint. If you have had symptoms like pain or a “clicking” sound, you’ll be glad to know that these problems are more easily diagnosed and treated than they were in the past. These symptoms occur when the joints of the jaw and the chewing muscles (muscles of mastication) do not work together correctly. TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint, which is the name for each joint (right and left) that connects your jaw to your skull. Since some types of TMJ problems can lead to more serious conditions, early detection and treatment are important.

No one treatment can resolve TMJ disorders completely and treatment takes time to become effective. Dr. Cooper-Newland or Dr. Thomas can help you have a healthier and more comfortable jaw.   Trouble With Your Jaw?

TMJ disorders develop for many reasons. You might clench or grind your teeth, tightening your jaw muscles and stressing your TM joint. You may have a damaged jaw joint due to injury or disease. Injuries and arthritis can damage the joint directly or stretch or tear the muscle ligaments. As a result, the disk, which is made of cartilage and functions as the “cushion” of the jaw joint, can slip out of position. Whatever the cause, the results may include a misaligned bite, pain, clicking, or grating noise when you open your mouth or trouble opening your mouth wide.

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Do You Have A TMJ Disorder?A man holding his jaw in pain

  • Are you aware of grinding or clenching your teeth?
  • Do you wake up with sore, stiff muscles around your jaws?
  • Do you have frequent headaches or neck aches?
  • Does the pain get worse when you clench your teeth?
  • Does stress make your clenching and pain worse?
  • Does your jaw click, pop, grate, catch, or lock when you open your mouth?
  • Is it difficult or painful to open your mouth, eat, or yawn?
  • Have you ever injured your neck, head, or jaws?
  • Have you had problems (such as arthritis) with other joints?
  • Do you have teeth that no longer touch when you bite?
  • Do your teeth meet differently from time to time?
  • Is it hard to use your front teeth to bite or tear food?
  • Are your teeth sensitive, loose, broken or worn?

The more times you answered “yes”, the more likely it is that you have a TMJ disorder. Understanding TMJ disorders will also help you understand how they are treated.   Treatment

There are various treatment options that Drs. Cooper-Newland or Thomas can utilize to improve the harmony and function of your jaw. Once an evaluation confirms a diagnosis of TMJ disorder, Drs. Cooper-Newland or Thomas will determine the proper course of treatment. It is important to note that treatment always works best with a team approach of self-care joined with professional care.

The initial goals are to relieve the muscle spasm and joint pain. This is usually accomplished with a pain reliever, anti-inflammatory, or muscle relaxant. Steroids can be injected directly into the joints to reduce pain and inflammation. Self-care treatments can often be effective as well and include:

  • Resting your jaw
  • Keeping your teeth apart when you are not swallowing or eating
  • Eating soft foods
  • Applying ice and heat
  • Exercising your jaw
  • Practicing good posture

Stress management techniques such as biofeedback or physical therapy may also be recommended, as well as a temporary, clear plastic appliance known as a splint. A splint (or nightguard) fits over your top or bottom teeth and helps keep your teeth apart, thereby relaxing the muscles and reducing pain. There are different types of appliances used for different purposes. A nightguard helps you stop clenching or grinding your teeth and reduces muscle tension at night and helps to protect the cartilage and joint surfaces. An anterior positioning appliance moves your jaw forward, relives pressure on parts of your jaw and aids in disk repositioning. It may be worn 24 hours/day to help your jaw heal. An orthotic stabilization appliance is worn 24 hours/day or just at night to move your jaw into proper position. Appliances also help to protect from tooth wear.

What About Bite Correction Or Surgery?

If your TMJ disorder has caused problems with how your teeth fit together, you may need treatment such as bite adjustment (equilibration), orthodontics with or without jaw reconstruction, or restorative dental work. Surgical options such as arthroscopy and open joint repair restructuring are sometimes needed, but are reserved for severe cases. Drs. Cooper-Newland or Thomas does not consider TMJ surgery unless the jaw can’t open, is dislocated and non-reducible, has severe degeneration, or the patient has undergone appliance treatment unsuccessfully.

Cooper and Thomas Oral Surgery

5 out of 5 stars based on 11 TMJ Disorder reviews

Patient Review by Angel M

I had a very pleasant experience in this clinic. I was sort of afraid of having my wisdom teeth removed but Dr. Thomas explained the procedure thoroughly and also informed me to call the office incase anything came up. The office staff were courteous and professional. I will be returning if I need anything in the future! 5/5 place in my book!

- Angel M

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Patient Review by Cole C

I was so nervous to get my wisdom teeth removed, but Dr. Thomas made the experience an easy and painless one. Before the surgery, each staff member calmed my nerves and reassured me. Dr. Thomas went above and beyond to make sure my recovery was going well. Such a great experience! Would definitely recommend

- Cole C

5 out of 5 stars on

Patient Review by Kenn S

The entire experience from appointment scheduling through office visit was superior.

- Kenn S

5 out of 5 stars on

Patient Review by carol b

very comforting initial visit. confirming dec. 15 for implant. I have followed referral to Dr Terry Ott for root canal on Oct 27 and am currently on antibiotics.

- carol b

5 out of 5 stars on

Patient Review by Luke H

I am a busy medical student with lots on my plate even in the summer (when I had my appointment), so I was somewhat apprehensive about the recovery period. Dr. Cooper-Newland somehow managed to extract my wisdom teeth in such a way that I felt nearly normal the next day and totally functional 2 days later. This is so important to me, so I am appreciative of her technical expertise. She also has a kind/efficient staff. Great appointment all around.

- Luke H

5 out of 5 stars on

Patient Review by Lawrence S

The entire staff at this office is entirely amazing. I've never seen such professionalism and customer service. They walked with through this frightening process and Dr. Cooper Newland did such an amazing job!

- Lawrence S

5 out of 5 stars on

Patient Review by Ana P

I had a pleasant experience! Dr Cooper was super!! No pain and it only took her a few minutes to remove my wisdom teeth, fastrer than getting a tooth filled. Best experience ever! Thank you, Doctor and staff for taking good care of my needs. Ana.

- Ana P

5 out of 5 stars on

Patient Review by Mary M

Dr. Cooper-Newland helped put my frightened 18 year old son at ease. He has never had any major procedures done or have to be put under. My son was extremely nervous and Dr. Cooper - Newland and her staff did an amazing job helping put him at ease. Post-op instructions were thoroughly explained and my son healed perfectly! I would definitely recommend this office!!!

- Mary M

5 out of 5 stars on

Patient Review by Mack S

This place has been very helpful and informative. I got my wisdom teeth pulled out with no pain and it was quick. Thank you

- Mack S

5 out of 5 stars on

Patient Review by michael h

I was very impressed with the staff during my visit and procedure. Everyone was friendly and efficient. Dr. Cooper-Newland was wonderful . I highly recommend the doctor and her staff.

- michael h

5 out of 5 stars on

Patient Review by Matthew C

Dr. Newland was able to diagnose the problem right away and got me scheduled for my procedure within a few days. Friendly service and courteous.

- Matthew C

5 out of 5 stars on