If you’re struggling with headaches, have difficulty chewing, or experience frequent pain in your jaw, ears, or neck, you could have a temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD) or a temporomandibular joint (TMJ) dysfunction. Dr. Mojgan Mazhari has dedicated many hours to postgraduate training in the diagnosis and treatment of TMJ disorders and complex bite problems. For your TMD and TMJ treatment, she relies on advanced technology to provide a comprehensive analysis of the function of your jaw joint for accurate treatment. Here’s how Alexandria Dental Health & Smile Studio can help you.

What Is TMJ Disorder?

TMJ disorder is an umbrella term that encompasses a range of problems that can afflict the temporomandibular joint(s). The temporomandibular joints are located on either side of the cranium, and they connect the jawbone to the skull, allowing for proper jaw movement. A range of issues—from trauma to overwork—can impact the temporomandibular joint(s) and cause pain or difficulty when moving the jaw. 

A TMJ disorder may also lead to complex dental problems such as damaged teeth and periodontal disease.

What Are the Common Symptoms of TMJ Disorder?

There are several typical symptoms of a bite disorder, and while some patients may experience a combination of symptoms, others may notice none at all. Some of the most common TMD and TMJ symptoms include:

  • Teeth grinding or clenching, often characterized by tooth wear
  • Frequent headaches or migraines
  • Earaches and a general feeling of fullness in the ears
  • Neck and/or shoulder pain
  • Limited mobility in the jaw
  • Clicking or popping when opening or closing the jaw

What Are the Potential Causes of TMJ Disorder?

TMD is a multifactorial disorder—this means it can be difficult to pinpoint a single cause of TMJ-related jaw pain. But many people suffer from it due to:  

  • Chronic bruxism (teeth grinding)
  • Frequent clenching of the jaw
  • Strain caused by a misaligned bite
  • Degenerative disorders, such as arthritis
  • Joint damage, oftentimes caused by injury

To help determine the most likely causes of your jaw pain, we sometimes recommend an MRI of the soft tissue. This helps determine if you’re truly experiencing TMD, or if your jaw pain is being caused by another factor, such as ear diseases or anatomical abnormalities.

How Is TMJ Disorder Diagnosed?

Dr. Mazhari uses the K-7 Evaluation System to provide an in-depth evaluation of the function of your jaw joint. This advanced technology incorporates electromyography and Doppler sonography to analyze movement, tension, and sounds when the jaw is in motion—important aspects of making a clinical diagnosis of TMJ dysfunction. This comprehensive analysis provides a more accurate diagnosis and establishes a foundation for TMD and TMJ treatment.  

What else can you expect during your condition assessment? 

  • A detailed questionnaire to get a better understanding of how your teeth, bite alignment, jaw position, and TMJ structures may influence your pain. 
  • A discussion about current medications and a review of any medical conditions—such as arthritis—that can influence TMJ disorders. 
  • Recommendation of pain management solutions that can temporarily relieve some of your discomfort prior to the start of treatment. 

Once this assessment is complete, you’ll have insight into the probable cost and duration of treatment. You might also be referred to another provider, especially in situations where your pain is determined to be chronic or highly complex. 

What Can I Expect From an Alexandria Dentist During TMJ Disorder Treatment?

Dr. Mazhari offers comprehensive, individualized treatment for TMD that is based on your specific bite dysfunction and any additional dental problems. Treatment may include one or more of the following:

  • Mouth guard and splint therapy. Dr. Mazhari may recommend the use of a custom mouth guard or dental splint to alleviate specific symptoms of TMJ disorder. These appliances are often the first step in the treatment process, which can help reposition the jaw into a natural position and prevent teeth grinding.
  • Bite correction therapy. This process is a series of adjustments made to the teeth to enable a natural, healthy bite and proper contact. Options may include:
    • Removing tooth structure
    • Applying dental crowns or porcelain veneers
    • Orthodontic treatments
    • Implant dentistry
  • Orthodontics. If the bite is misaligned, orthodontics may be needed to reposition the teeth, allowing them to fit together harmoniously. Dr. Mazhari is a Northern Virginia Invisalign provider and may recommend this orthodontic treatment option when appropriate for restoring balance to the bite.
  • Restorative dentistry. In cases with significant tooth wear or damage, restorative dentistry may be needed to bring the teeth back to their proper health and beauty. We may recommend dental crowns, partial crowns, porcelain veneers, or cosmetic bonding to restore your teeth and allow proper tooth contact.

Will you need to have surgery during your TMD or TMJ treatment? Actually, this is generally a last-resort procedure. Once you’re diagnosed, Dr. Mazhari will work closely with you throughout the TMD treatment process in order to decide on the optimal therapeutic options for you.