Why Diagnosing TMJ Disorder can be such a Challenge

diagnosing tmjMiami and Coral Gables, FL

Can you find your temporomandibular joint? This small, round joint connects your jaw to your skull on either side of your head. It may not seem significant, but a dysfunction with the joint can have a major impact on your health, not to mention your quality of life. Problems associated with the temporomandibular joint often are referred to as TMJ disorder. This ailment is estimated to affect about 15 percent of the American population, but the exact total is unknown because so many cases of TMJ disorder either are never diagnosed or they are misdiagnosed. In this article, your Miami neuromuscular dentists at Miami Designer Smiles will explore why identifying TMJ disorder correctly can be such a challenge for many primary care physicians, and why a TMJ dentist is the best practitioner to diagnose and treat this disorder.

The symptoms of TMJ disorder can vary widely from person to person

Maybe you are dealing with painful headaches that feel like migraines, especially first thing in the morning. Maybe you’re noticing irregular wear on your teeth, ringing in your ears, or even pain in the neck and shoulders. Here is a  thorough list of symptoms of TMJ disorder,  if you think that you have TMJ disorder, contact us to schedule a screening.

While the symptoms of TMJ disorder can be quite diverse, one constant from case to case is experiencing significant pain in the face, head, or neck. In many cases, this pain manifests in the jaws. You might have trouble opening your jaw in the morning, or experience pain when chewing food. If this is happening to you on a regular basis, or you are experiencing jaw pain at seemingly random times throughout the day, then you should be screened by a trained neuromuscular dentist to determine if you have TMJ disorder.  

As mentioned earlier, a patient suffering from TMJ disorder may feel the effects of the ailment throughout the body, such as the head, neck, shoulders, and even the back. However, lasting relief won’t be found until the root cause—the dysfunction of the temporomandibular joint—is identified and treated. For example, if you are suffering from frequent headaches as a consequence of TMJ disorder, you may be misdiagnosed with migraines. In that case, even the most powerful migraine remedies only will treat the symptoms of the headaches as they happen, but won’t do anything to address how often they occur.

How a neuromuscular dentist can help

Neuromuscular dentistry is a specialty of the field, focusing on the alignment of the bite and jaw. A dentist who practices this discipline undergoes rigorous post-graduate training and education. This prepares a neuromuscular dentist to identify a case of TMJ disorder and then provide treatment by alleviating whatever is stressing the temporomandibular joint.

At Miami Designer Smiles, both our dentists have trained in neuromuscular dentistry at the prestigious Las Vegas Institute, considered the pre-eminent location for post-graduate dental study in the country. Once Drs. Raul Garcia and Conchi Sanchez-Garcia identify a case of TMJ disorder, they can provide relief, ideally through a course of oral appliance therapy. This type of treatment entails applying gentle pressure on the jaws to remove the stress on the temporomandibular joint.

You don’t have to live with the pain of TMJ disorder any longer. Schedule an appointment with one of our neuromuscular dentists today by calling (305) 595-5616 if you live in the areas of Miami and Coral Gables in South Florida.