TMJ Assessment - Dr. Howard Dean

TMJ Assessment

TMJ Assessment Introduction

Hello, I’m Dr. Howard Dean, DDS and I’m a Dental Health Coach in Fairfield, Ohio. As someone who specializes in minimally invasive and biologic dentistry, I spend a good deal of my time helping people with TMJ/TMD diagnosis and treatment.

If you’ve been experiencing symptoms like teeth grinding, jaw soreness, and popping noises that radiate from the jaw area, you may be wondering if you have TMD. TMD/TMJ Disorder can be tricky to identify because the symptoms can vary from one person to the next.

Our TMJ Assessment Approach

Completing a TMJ assessment can help you get started in the right direction in diagnosing and treating your condition. I recommend doing a self-assessment at home and then following up with a visit to my dental office in Fairfield.

When you visit my office, we’ll discuss your symptoms in detail and I’ll do a thorough examination to determine the condition of your TMJ health. Then, we’ll create an individualized treatment plan to get you back on track to total wellness.

Understanding the Causes of TMJ/TMD

An understanding of the biological conditions which cause TMJ Disorder is key for successful treatment. Before we explore more about TMJ diagnosis and treatment, I’d like to share some facts about what causes this troubling and debilitating condition.

When it comes to your TMJ health, it’s important to look at the whole picture, not just the symptoms. My approach is health-centered, taking the whole person into consideration. If you just focus on the symptoms, you’ll never get rid of the root cause and your problems are more likely to return.

Jaw Joint Dysfunction

TMJ Disorder, or Temporomandibular Joint Disorder, is a condition which occurs when the joints which connect the jaw to the skull (TMJs) cease to perform properly as they should. The chewing muscles, which control jaw functioning, start to spasm as a result of being tired and overworked. This places strain on the jaw joints, or TMJs. Sometimes, displacement of the jaw joint disc occurs, causing jaw pain, tenderness, facial pain, headaches, and restricted jaw movement.

Dental Trauma & Other Causes

Sometimes, dental trauma, such as a blow to the face, causes the onset of TMD symptoms. TMJ fractures occur due to direct trauma to the face. The jaw most often breaks along the condyles, which are rounded projections on the jaw bone. Fracture also may occur with a dislocation of the joints. Motor vehicle accidents, assault, sports injuries, and falls are the most common causes of TMJ fractures. Genetics too, can play a role in causation. However, the most common cause of TMD is a misaligned bite.

Misaligned Bite

Misalignment and structural issues affect the way the upper and lower teeth come together. A “bad bite,” or malocclusion, is the most common cause of TMD. A misaligned bite forces the chewing muscles to work harder than they should. Eventually, they become so strained that they start to spasm, which, in turn, puts stress on the jaw joints. Individuals who suffer from a bad bite may also experience teeth grinding and clenching, jaw pain, difficulty chewing, and a range of TMD symptoms.

At Home TMJ Self-Assessment

If you suspect you may have TMD, you can do a self-assessment at home by completing this questionnaire:

  1. Are you frequently troubled by headaches or migraines?
  2. Do you have unexplained back, neck, or shoulder pain?
  3. Do you sometimes hear clicking or popping noises in your jaw when you open or close your mouth? 
  4. Do you ever experience jaw pain when you open or close your mouth?
  5. Does your jaw lock at any position? Is it difficult to open or close your mouth, or do you feel like you can’t quite open your mouth completely?
  6. Do you have facial pain?
  7. Are you frequently troubled by earaches and/or ringing in your ears?
  8. Do you ever wake up in the morning with a tired or stiff jaw?
  9. Do you clench your jaw or grind your teeth?
  10. Are some of your teeth worn, broken or loose?
  11. Does it hurt when you chew?
  12. Are your teeth sensitive to hot and/or cold foods or beverages?
  13. Do you feel like your jaw gets tired when you chew or when you have to open it for a long period of time, such as a dental appointment?

If you answered yes to some or more of these questions, it’s possible that you may be suffering from Temporomandibular Joint Disorder. However, the only true way to identify TMD is by obtaining a diagnosis from a dental health professional.

Diagnosing & Treating TMJ Disorder

Diagnosis of TMJ Disorder requires a detailed dental health examination. During your appointment, I will conduct a bite analysis and observe your TMJ health as well as the condition of the surrounding bones, tissues, and dental elements. Then, together we will create a custom treatment plan based on my findings.


Proper Diagnosis Is Key for Success

As I mentioned, proper diagnosis is critical for successful TMD treatment. Only this way can the root cause of TMD be identified and addressed, preventing symptoms from returning in the future. While an at home self assessment is a good place to start, it should not be the only method used for diagnosis. If you are concerned about your TMJ health, I encourage you to schedule an appointment at my office.

Looking for TMJ/TMD Treatment in Fairfield, Ohio?

If you believe that you may have TMJ/TMD or if you already know you are suffering from TMJ disorder symptoms or want to explore your treatment options, I’d love to help you. I encourage you to contact my office at (513) 829-2026 and schedule an appointment for my Complimentary Consultation or my Complimentary 2nd Opinion Consultation for TMJ/TMD Treatment & Diagnosis. I specialize in TMJ/TMD treatment disorder at my dental practice in Fairfield and many of our patients come see us from West Chester, Hamilton, Cincinnati, Dayton, and other surrounding communities for my specialized care.