Dentist Questions TMJ

Can effects from TMJ ever be reversed?

Around 5 years ago, I went through a very stressful time and started clenching/grinding my teeth in my sleep. It lasted for around two months. During that time, I couldn't eat solid foods because of the pain. I visited my dentist and oral surgeon and they both said there's nothing I can do except try to relax my jaw. Now, my mouth crackles whenever I open it wide or chew something like steak. It's not painful at all, just a little uncomfortable sometimes. Am I stuck with this forever?

28 Answers

Yes, use mouthguard or botox injections
Chew gently with processed foods to avoid stress on your TMJ (Jaw joint).
There are other reasons you have TMJ issues. Sleep Breathing Disorders come to mind. You should seek a home sleep study to see if there is a relationship.
TMD, or also called TMJ, is a structural stomagatic disorder that is very intermediately related to airway issues and unhappy facial and beach muscles. This can contribute to many symptoms like headaches, vertigo, head and neck pain, sore muscles, and clenching and bruxing as you mentioned. There are many approaches and modalities in treating this disorder. I have seen best results with my patients with the science of GNeuromuscular dentistry.
TMJ can be treated very successfully with many, many options. Your Dr. will be able to give you all your options.
Symptoms of pain from clenching and grinding can be reversed. First, you can have your dentist make you a nightguard which will take the stress of clenching off of your jaw joints and relieve pain. Muscle relaxants such as Flexeril can also be prescribed which will relax the muscles of the jaw responsible for opening and closing. If these conservative measures do not help, you can seek the advice of an oral surgeon who specializes in TMD and several surgical options are available as well.
Not necessarily. You should see a TMJ specialist.
You are not stuck with discomfort forever! You will need to find a neuromuscular (or physiologic) dentist in your area. The crackling sound is the result of the disc being trapped within the tempromandibular joint (TMJ) resulting in dysfunction or disease of the TMJ, also known as TMD. A mandibualr orthotic will need to be fabricated only after a proper ulfTENS (ultra low frequency transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) and/or EMG bite is taken. The ulfTENS allows the muscles to relax to their
physiologic rest position. Depending on the extent of dysfunction, the popping/clicking or crackling might not completely go away due to torn ligaments or a hole worn into the disc itself. The past president of ICCMO (International College of Craniomandibular Orthopedics), Curtis Westersund, has a great YouTube video: TMD Explained by Dr. Curtis Westesund.

Bottom line, see a neuromuscular dentist for your head and neck muscles being problematic to your joint.
You should have a nite guard to help your problem from getting worse. The clenching and/or grinding doesn't go away. So once a person is stressed then they will do it more. But once you get a Nite guard and if it is not painful then hints should be stable. But if it gets worse then there are surgical interventions that the oral surgeon can do.
What start this discussion by treating the actual problem or cause rather than symptoms as I'm afraid your dentist or oral surgeon are addressing. Your symptoms are related to either one of a multitude of factors including a poor bite one that has changed over the course of years due to stress and or that of missing teeth. You neglected to say how old you are but for purposes of a general discussion let's just say your search needs to begin with someone who is a specialist in occlusion, your bite. An orthodontist should be your first stop for consultation is this is the most likely scenario that will give you relief is to evaluate your occlusion and symptoms associated with your pain. It makes perfect sense to reestablish harmonious occlusion to offset stress-related issues over the course of any adults lifetime as we are all subject to stress. Your orthodontist will take diagnostic records including xray photographs and study models possibly even mounting your cast on an articulator in order to diagnose exactly where your bite is failing and what sets of muscles are triggering your symptoms. It will be much more detail than anyone else in dentistry will apply and much more effective toward a long-term solution. Good luck
Not necessarily. It depends on how much damage has occurred to the jaw joint (TMJ) itself. Sometimes through the use of a night guard, you can "rest" the joint and muscles and let it recover. Other times, after a proper diagnosis of the problem, physical therapy, ultrasound treatments, or rarely surgery can be helpful.
Unfortunately with the damage that is done with the joint there is not a whole lot that can be done. It's good you are not having any pain. So the key is going to be to prevent any more damage from being done by wearing a night guard or Botox to lessen the grinding.
Joint noises can be normal, sometimes if they get painful that can be an issue. I would recommend having your bite evaluated and getting a custom fit bite guard that help balance your teeth joint and muscles to get them in the best position. You may need an initial splint to relax all the muscles and joint first, that's normal. I hope you feel better! - Anthony Gonzalez, DDS
The biggest problem is not doing anything about TMD problems which is most often resulting from clenching/Grinding...because it can continue to get worse...really no reason for it not to get worse if the cause of the problem doesn't change or you are not protected from the cause. The noise may never leave...but may worsen if it's not protected.
The muscle tightness can usually be resolved with chiropractic care and muscle work along with your effort in exercising to put the muscles at peace again. It is well worth your effort to seek care with these professionals. Find one who is well trained in TMJ issues. The tooth damage is a different story. Hopefully it can be replaced with simple resin fillings. Crowns are not always needed.
Good luck!!
Dr Duke
Dysfunction of the TMJ can be treated. It is not unusual that stressful situations can be a cause of TMJ symptoms resulting in joint trauma and inflammation. Splint therapy can help alleviate discomfort and sometimes can completely resolve the symptoms. The best place to start is with a comprehensive examination to see if splint therapy is indicated.
It depends. Each jaw joint has a disc that provides a cushion between the upper and lower bones. Unfortunately that disc can slip out of place and the bones compress adjacent tissue that results in pain. One of two things can happen: either the disc regains its proper position or eventually the adjacent tissue scars over (which is why the pain stops) and acts as a substitute disc. The problem is that the jaw is no longer in its optimal position and muscle fatigue from holding it in a compensating position can cause intermittent discomfort.
You may never lose the crackling noises, but you can relieve the muscle tension with a well-adjusted occlusal bite splint. This orthodontic positioning device allows the joint to assume its best adapted position. Once the jaw joint has recovered, the teeth should be analyzed to determine if smooth, balanced movements can be provided in the absence of the bite splint.
There are different stages that an internal derangement of the TMJ's can go through over time. The symptoms can come and go during these stages. It is best to have it properly diagnosed so you know what to expect. Also be sure you understand the difference between TMD and TMJ problems which differ.
The damage that you did to your teeth and jaws is real and without treatment permanent. Wearing down the teeth is something that does more damage than just to the teeth that are worn. As your teeth wear down they allow the condyle (the part of the temporomandibular joint "TMJ" that is like the "ball" of the joint) to be forced higher into the Fossa (the socket) than it should be. Now as your jaw functions that mal position results in your symptoms. A 3D x-ray can show us the exact position that your joint has moved to when you bite all the way down and help guide us to know how to correct the position of your jaw with a splint. The long term fix will be to use crowns to support your jaws in your correct position, but long term splint wear is necessary to assure that the correct position had been determined. Unfortunately, the TMJ dysfunction goes thru cycles where it is gets worse and gets better, but as time goes by without treatment the worse cycle keeps getting worse.

Daniel A. Lieblong, D.D.S.
There are several TMJ specialists that could take a finer look into your problem. However, generally when you start having crepitus (crackling sound), it has to do the movements between the condyle on the jaw, disk and/or the ligaments in the TMJ. To avoid further grinding i would recommend a mouth guard but unfortunately the option to get sound fixed might require surgical intervention.
You do not need to be “stuck “ with this. I would recommend consulting with a dentist with experience treating TMJ disorders
Unfortunately there is not much that can be done about the clicking in the TM joint( Temporal Mandibular - jaw joints). This is the result of an injury and displacement of the disc(cartilage) that sits between the condyle ( lower jaw portion of joint) and articular eminence(skull portion of jaw joint). The click is a result of the condyle popping on and off this disc. Fortunately this condition is often asymptomatic- pain free. Although in the beginning some individuals have a priod of pain until the surrounding tissues reorganize and become tolerant of the new stresses they are supporting.There have been many attempted treatments for TMJ problems including surgeries,which only have about a 50% success rate. Other treatments include splints(something worn in mouth). There has been limited success in recapturing the disk with splints in early treatment cases. Many will repeatedly relapse however. In some cases over time the click disappears probably due to further recontouring of the disk over time.
Many people have some time of TMJ function that is affected. It is common for varioius life events as a child, sports, falling, or impact. Once it happens, many people develop a click/pop that is persistent. Try not to encourage it; you don't want it to get more pronounced like a callus getting rubbed will get bigger. It may just be easier for you to get a sore joint now and will need to manage it gently with chewy foods. If it gets sore again or pops/clicks easier, then stay off the chewy things for up to 3-4 weeks, because a joint just takes time for the swelling to go down before you get back to normal use again.
Depends on the issue with your TMJ arthritic changes for xample happen as we age and affect all joints including your TMJ. If the TMJ issue was caused by heavy grinding during a particular time in your life those changes can reverse to a certain extent. A bad bite can contribute to TMJ issues check with an orthodontist to see if braces are indicated also wearing a bite plate often called a night can take the stress of the joint
That is a great big NO! There are many ways to treat and possibly have you eating in comfort again, with non-invasive techniques that I personally sought out additional training for. Call and I will be happy to discuss your options. 844-Doctor-E
Absolutely! You have a biomechanics problem. The bite and the proper skeletal alignment of your skull and mandible do not coincide. Very common problem but very few dentist are trained to diagnose and treat. If you don't treat it, it will continue to worsen throughout your life.
If there has been damage to the disc and the cartilage of the joint, it is like arthritis and the crackle may be there forever unless you have arthroscopic surgery to resurface the joint. The damage can be seen with a cone beam xray (CBCT). A custom mouth guard will also help and a full assessment of your bite with an adjustment will most likely be necessary as well. There is something happening with your bite that helped cause the crackle and if your teeth are in proper alignment, this could help relax the muscles. Try an over the counter mouth guard from the sports store (or online) to see if it helps while you sleep and then a custom one should be made to help your muscles not clench so much at night. Take care and good luck!
You need to be checked and properly diagnosed, before your problem become worse.