501-954-9330 LR | 501-329-3312 Conway501-753-7366 NLR | 501-354-2554 Morrilton
TMJ is a painful condition affecting millions of Americans, however many are suffering from its effects without proper diagnosis. Because “Temporomandibular Joint Disorder” is a mouthful, it is frequently shortened to TMJD or simply, TMJ.
The temporomandibular joint connects the lower jaw (the mandible) to the skull (temporal bone) and the connection comes together right in front of each ear. That’s what you can feel moving when you open and close your mouth. This joint is the most complex joint in the human body, so its dysfunction could only be accompanied by a surpassingly complex pain disorder.
The most common points of discomfort associated with TMJ are the temporal lobe and the back of the neck, but are certainly not restricted to these areas. In fact, many people experience back, shoulder and neck pain as a result of TMJ.
So just why is this joint such a nuisance? Think about the many ways your jaw moves throughout the day – yawning, chewing and smiling, just to name a few. It is the only joint in the entire body that is bi-laterally hinged, meaning it moves forward and backward, up and down, and side to side. Additionally, there are ligaments and tendons in conjunction with nerves and muscles that support the jaw and its movements.
One important piece to this intricate puzzle is the Lima bean-sized cartilage nestled between the bones that makes up the joint. One of our hygienists, Alice, explains it like this, “Just like any other joint needs that cartilage, so does the jaw. And the more someone over-exercises their jaw or grinds their teeth, the more worn down the cartilage becomes. This creates less and less tissue to cushion the bones and, over time, can be reduced to bone-on-bone agitation.” As if the jaw isn’t already complicated enough, add teeth into the equation and that multiplies the complexities of the whole ensemble.
There are also numerous bad habits that negatively affect the jaw and can trigger TMJ. A few of these “micro traumas” are clenching or grinding the teeth, lip or nail biting, chewing on a pencil and biting the inside of your cheek. Others experience TMJ symptoms after a single injury such as whiplash or jaw dislocation.
The disorder can also be coupled with the diagnosis of a degenerative disorder like rheumatoid arthritis. While TMJ in most cases is not dangerous, it is inconvenient and can result in larger long-term obstacles. The outcome of untreated TMJ can range from fractured teeth, broken crowns and bridges to Trismus, or “Lock Jaw.”
Our RDH Claranne points out several things to keep in mind, “If you sleep on your side, or with your hands under your face, this can worsen TMJ symptoms. Heightened stress and TMJ pain are also directly correlated.” If you notice clicking or popping when you open and close your jaw, you might want to ask your dentist or dental hygienist about a simple test to determine if you could be experiencing side effects of Temporomandibular Joint Disorder. “There is a simple crepitus test we can do when patients come in and it helps us to diagnose TMJ,” Claranne says. Pay attention to your body’s aches, pains, and noises – there’s a reason behind them!
While there is no cure for TMJ and it won’t just go away on its own, there are treatment options, providing patients with solutions to manage the pain. Dr. Fox reminds us that not all solutions are what they seem. “Many patients actually develop TMJ when an old or ill-fitting mouth appliance creates jaw misalignment.” Over the counter night guards can actually harm your bite more than help it, so you should always consult with your dentist before purchasing one.
Dr. Fox also has a list of things he recommends patients try to alleviate TMJ pain. “Taking NSAIDs and applying warm compresses are simple fixes, and lightly massaging the temples can help. If the pain is still substantial and the patient is waking up through the night with trouble, I recommend a custom-fit night guard.”
For many patients and doctors alike, the approach to TMJ therapy can be frustrating when time after time, the above things are crossed off the list, carrying little to no relief. For these cases, Dentalways offers a series of TMJ therapy visits in which Dr. Khullar creates a customized therapy program, including muscle scans, joint sonography and a TENS unit. This gives him a much deeper look at the underlying root cause of the disorder. This therapy is not for everyone, as it’s a big commitment and estimated treatment costs start at $6,000. But for those patients who have exhausted all other options, he has had outstanding results.
If you’re interested in TMJ therapy with Dentalways, or are looking to be tested for the disorder, please give us a call at 501-753-7366 or fill out our Appointment Request form today.
My teeth have always been small which made my gums cover about 70% of my smile. For this reason, I have always been self-conscious when smiling. But because of Dr. Khullar’s generosity, kindness, and concern for my feelings he made the “total procedure” possible for me! Dr. Khullar and his team were as concerned and excited about the final outcome of my procedure as I was!
Now everyone tells me what a total difference it has made in my appearance. I cannot thank him and his team enough! He’s a wonderful person and an outstanding dentist. Because of them I cannot stop smiling!
Linda B. - Conway, AR
Dr. Khullar and his team including Lauren , Jeannie and Lori were exceptionally friendly and efficient, which is hard to find these days in doctor offices. During my recent visit they accommodated their schedule to get all my procedures on the same day. Dr. Khullar and his team spends time talking to you and explaining the procedures in detail. I would highly recommend this clinic to all my friends, family and physician peers. Keep up the great work!!
Senthil R. MD, MPH - Little Rock, AR
My last procedure was a root canal and two crowns. I was given plenty of time to relax, and because of the expertise and gentle care from Dr. Khullar and his team I actually slept through the entire procedure! Dr. Khullar stayed after hours to ensure that I was comfortable and answered all my concerns.
I travel an hour round trip to see Dr. Khullar and would encourage anyone else to do the same. His team, especially Jessica and Trish, make everything from insurance to payments to assisting in my dental care a surprisingly pleasant experience. You really can't say that about most dentists. Several of my family members are now patients at DK Dental, and we are the most satisfied we have ever been with our dental care!
Theresa C. - Conway, AR
Dr. Khullar and his team are so polite and fun to be around, it makes my visit enjoyable and relaxing. My mouth has done a 180 degree turn thanks to Dr. Khullar. He made me feel that every visit and every dollar was worth my wonderful new smile.
My life is much better without the pain of cavities. I feel free from the stress of bad teeth and bad gums. Dr. Khullar is one of my hero's, and his team is so nice and caring!
Dr. Khullar and his team are friendly and take excellent care of my family's teeth. The office is equipped with the technology needed to stay current with new advances in dentistry. They are local and schedule around our busy lifestyle with a family seven.
Dr. K and his team are very helpful with scheduling what needs to be taken care of first. They have worked hard with us to figure out what insurance would pay and help us figure out payment options. Thank you guys for all your help, our family is pain free and have healthy teeth because of your hard work.
What I like most is their friendly and professional assistance and the manner in which they care for their patients. Most of my visits required lengthy work. Dr. Khullar and his team made me feel very comfortable and at ease and all of my dental work was done with little or no pain or discomfort.
He and his staff are the friendliest and most enjoyable people anyone could be around and this so important in a medical setting.
Dr. Khullar and his team are always very cooperative and helpful in answering my questions. Everyone in his office is always cheerful and friendly. They always remember me from visit to visit!
I was pleasantly surprised when I first walked into his Perryville and Morrilton offices. He uses the latest high tech dental equipment, and he is fully staffed with qualified and friendly people.
On the day Dr. K told me it would take two hours sitting in the dental chair for the first phase of my tooth implant, I told him, no way! But he and his nurse worked in such an expert and gentle manner that I made it through the procedure just fine. The cost was less too. Dr. Khullar has done extensive work on my teeth the past couple of years, and from my point of view, he is among the best dentists to be found anywhere!
The best part of Dr. Khullar's office is the team is always friendly and smiling, they make me feel good about coming in. I have had a couple of crowns now and an inlay. I am 36 and had never taken the nitrous gas. Dr. K always asked if I would like some, but I was nervous about it. I will never have a crown without it again.
I love that because of Dr. K I can joke and have fun while having dental work done! Not to mention my crowns were perfect! I recommend Dr. Khullar to everyone I know.
I love the fact that Dr. Khullar and his team were persistent with my work until it was perfect and I was totally satisfied. His team is kind, caring, and friendly. I have regained my confidence with the great smile Dr. Khullar has given me. Dr. Khullar truly gave me a Hollywood smile!
When I first came to Dr. Khullar I did not want to smile, my teeth were worn out and I could not chew properly. But Dr. Khullar took care of all my dental problems and now I have the smile I've always wanted and can chew like never before!
My old teeth got worn and flaky. One of my teeth was so fragile, it broke while I was eating pretzels! My new LVI teeth are not only very comfortable they look great. Thanks to Dr. Khullar and his team I have a new smile that not only looks good, but makes me feel confident, assured, and about 10 years younger! Every morning when I look in the mirror I wonder why I didn't do this sooner!