If you have chronic severe headaches, jaw pain, tension in the neck and shoulders, or other unexplained symptoms, you might have TMJ – Temporomandibular Joint Disorder, also abbreviated as TMD. TMJ/TMD diagnosis is done by a neuromuscular dentist. It requires special technology and training and Dr. Quigless has both.
Diagnosis starts with a detailed dental examination. Your bite is a three-point mechanical arrangement between the chin and the two jaw joints. The joints are ball-and-socket joints with a cartilage disc between the two bone surfaces. When the teeth are misaligned, the lower jaw cannot move properly in its upper jaw socket.
Over time, this creates a lot of facial tension, with chronically strained jaw muscles, inflammation, and compressed facial nerves. It is not at all surprising that the TMJ symptoms are so various. The nerves are large and have many branches throughout the head, face, neck and shoulders. When any branch of a nerve is compressed, it sends a pain signal to the brain; and other parts of that same nerve may do the same.
Further, the jaw joints are very close to the ears and inflammation around the joints can cause earaches or tinnitus (ringing in the ears).
TMJ diagnosis Brings Pain Relief
That is because part of the diagnostic procedure uses a TENS unit (Transcutaneous Electrical Neural Stimulation). This little unit has electrodes that Dr. Quigless will attach to the head, face, and neck. They transmit mild intermittent electrical stimulation to the muscles involved in jaw movement and after 30 or 40 minutes, this stimulation relaxes the muscles.
If you have had tense jaw muscles for years, this is a dramatic change. With the muscles relaxed, the jaw is now in its correct position. The goal of your TMJ treatment will be making this correct position permanent.
Gathering Detailed Jaw Data
Dr. Quigless has the K7 Evaluation System as well as a TENS unit. The K7 system is computerized and designed to analyze a person’s bite. It includes three lightweight pieces of headgear that you wear during testing.
For jaw movement tracking there is a comfortable framework resting on your shoulders that uses several sensors to record your jaw’s range of motion and any torque when you open your mouth;
For jaw muscle electrical activity, there is a structure resting around the neck with electrodes; it creates several types of electromyograph;
For jaw joint sounds, there is a small headset with a transducer over each jaw joint and a small device around the neck.
When testing is done, Dr. Quigless will print out a patient sheet that illustrates and explains all the data collected. He will discuss it with you and suggest ways of correcting any jaw misalignment. Each case of TMJ is individual, which means that each TMJ treatment is also individual.
If you suffer from head or facial pain and would like to learn more about TMJ/TMD, please call or email our dental office today. We serve the St. Louis, Missouri area and we will be happy to arrange a personal consultation for you with Dr. Quigless.
8083 Manchester Rd.
St. Louis, MO 63144