What is Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ)?
Your Temporomandibular Joint, also known as TMJ, is located immediately in front of your ears on each side of your head. It acts like a hinge that connects your jaw to your skull, thus allowing you to chew and speak properly. The jaw bone, called the mandible, is the most complicated bone in our body. Temporomandibular Disorders (TMD) can result from imbalances between the teeth, its joints, and the muscles used to control movement. It can also be the result of minor or major trauma or disfunctional swallowing mechanisms.
The jaw is the only bone in the body that has two joints that must move at the same time. You can’t move your left joint without moving your right- this is unique in the body and is what makes chewing complicated. While this complex movement makes it one of the most complicated joints in our bodies, it is equally one of the most used. The whole process of chewing is an exquisite process.
Pain in this area can cause extensive discomfort and get in the way of your everyday life. It often starts out as subtle twinges in the teeth or joints when eating. It is seen as a progressive disease and the earlier it is identified and an intervention started, the better. Patients often spend years going from physician to physician trying to cure unrelenting headaches or other pain in their head and neck only to find out that it was the teeth that was the culprit.
Common Symptoms of TMD
- Frequent headaches
- Neck Pain
- Sore jaw muscles
- Temple or cheek pain
- Jaw popping, clicking and locking
- Difficulty in opening the mouth fully or closing
- Ear pain
- Worn, loose, fractured, or sensitive teeth
Common Causes of TMD
- Major or minor trauma to the jaw
- Para-function-teeth grinding and/or clenching
- Stress and other psychological factors
- Improper bite or misaligned jaw
- Muscle imbalance
- Sleep apnea or constricted airways
- Improper swallowing mechanism
What are your treatment options?
Treatment is customized for each patient based upon a thorough evaluation. We provide an effective individualized approach based on research and many years of experience, coupled with extensive advanced study.
Treatments for TMD may include
- Orthotics or Bite Appliances
- Physical Therapy for your jaw
- Soft food diet
- Adjunct Therapies such as Myofunctional Therapy
- Moist heat or cold packs
- Corrective dental treatments
- Restorative Dentistry
Why Dr. Muench?
Dr. Muench has been specializing in TMD/TMJ for over 10 years (and related dentistry for over 30 years). He has taken many classes and has vast experience with TMD/TMJ cases. Now, he even teaches classes on TMD/TMJ (you can read testimonials from his students here).
In addition to the wealth of knowledge and quest to provide the best long-term care possible, Dr. Muench wants you to feel comfortable and safe. Below, you can read about the experience of our patients and their TMD/TMJ treatments.
Next steps for treatment
- Schedule an initial 1-hour consultation with Dr. Muench by calling (973) 763-2221
- Fill out our TMJ/TMD Pain Questionnaire
- At the consult with Dr. Muench you’ll review your history along with a detailed evaluation. This is also where you and Dr. Muench will be able to screen each other to make sure there is a good fit.
- In conjunction with the consult, or afterwards (your choice), there will be a thorough examination of the jaw muscles. This occlusal analysis will take about 2 hours. During this time we’ll take photos and create models that will give us more concrete information.
- Dr. Muench will put together a composite to review and suggest the next steps forward, both short-term and long-term.
The path forward is always unique to the individual–some will choose to fix all the core issues as soon as possible while others will prefer minimal treatment to attain a “holding pattern.” Either way, Dr. Muench will help you along your path towards a long-term solution that will last decades, instead of quick fixes that don’t last.
Often there will be multiple stages of care to ensure long-term sustainability. This can range from several cycles of hygiene, to creating a bite appliance, or fixing crowns. It may also involve seeing other specialists to help create harmony among the muscles, joints, and teeth.