Your temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the joint where your jaw connects to your skull allowing you to close and open your jaw. Sometimes the TMJ is injured or damaged, resulting in a painful condition called temporomandibular joint dysfunction or disorder (TMD). If you are experiencing pain, restriction of jaw opening or difficulty in jaw closing or hearing clicking noises when you move your jaw these are all symptoms of TMD and should be evaluated for TMD. At his practice, Smiles! Dentistry by Dr. Joseph Heher in Salisbury, MD, Dr. Heher uses his TMJ training to examine and treat your TMD to ease pain and/or dysfunction. Your TMJ therapy options include oral appliances (nightguards), bite modification, splint therapy, and/or physical therapy.
"The staff is super friendly and so is Dr. Heher. My family has been using him for years and I can't imagine going anywhere else"- B.M. / Facebook / Oct 01, 2019
"Like a lot of people, I dread going to the dentist. I was scheduled as a first time patient very quickly. Dr. Heher sat with me before and after my exam and comprehensively went over my care plan. He listened to my previous dental horror stories and was very reassuring and kind. I feel at ease going back."- M.B. / Google / Sep 27, 2019
"Dr. Heher went in-depth with me at my first exam. Him and all staff made my day as they were kind and professional. Being to three different dentist in the area, I truly feel Dr. Heher was thorough, easy to talk to and ask questions and gentle. His staff and himself definitely make you their priority."- A.B. / Google / Jan 04, 2019
"I really liked how friendly the staff was. It was my first time going here and I was really impressed with how Dr. Heher sat down and explained everything to me. Great dentist! 😁"- A.K. / Google / Aug 30, 2019
"Hygienist Barb always fantastic, putting patient at ease with her humor & professionalism. Dr. Heher offers many words of support, encouragement.He was first to identify, diagnose a problem I was having.Office Ladies pleasant & helpful."- J.D. / Google / Aug 23, 2019
Temporomandibular joint disorder might be brought on by a single injury to the jaw, or behaviors such as chronic grinding of your teeth and clenching your jaw (bruxism), or a misaligned bite (dental malocclusion). Medical conditions that might lead to TMD could include a tumor in the TMJ (quite rare) or arthritis. In some cases, the underlying reason for TMD is uncertain, but stress usually plays a role in its etiology. If you are experiencing symptoms, Dr. Heher can diagnose and treat your jaw. The most common symptoms of TMD are pain or tenderness in the jaw, spasms in your facial muscles, feeling as if your jaw is stiff or stuck, and headaches that start near your ears, sometimes accompanied by neck aches. Another symptom can be hearing cracking, popping, or clicking whenever you open or close your jaw.
What To Expect
To help diagnose a temporomandibular disorder, Dr. Heher will carefully listen and understand your concerns before performing a physical examination. During the exam, he will assess the movement of your jaw and investigate indications of teeth grinding, jaw clenching, and misalignment of your teeth. He will also palpate the jawbone and surrounding muscles for tenderness and inflammation. Dr. Heher may order digital x-rays of your lower face or conduct a bite analysis to determine underlying causes that could impact treatment. Based on the exam, he will review your treatment options that could include a night guard, splint therapy and/or bite equilibration. The milder your symptoms, the better the chance that non-surgical therapies will work.
Along with procedures to address the underlying cause of your temporomandibular joint disorder, Dr. Heher can recommend other means to ease pain and other symptoms at home. This could include a liquid or soft food diet, avoiding chewing gum and biting your nails, heat packs on your jaw, and relaxation techniques. Dr. Heher can also give you exercises to strengthen your jaw or prescribe medicine to relax muscles, ease pain, anxiety, or inflammation.
Patients are urged to continue to schedule follow-up visits so Dr. Heher can check the progress of your TMJ therapy. If nonsurgical approaches are not effective to treat your TMD, Dr. Heher may refer you to an oral surgeon or TMJ specialist for further treatment. Once your TMD has been treated, you should continue to schedule annual dental exams at Smiles! Dentistry by Dr. Joseph Heher in order to maintain your oral health.
Dental insurance coverage for TMJ pain diagnosis and TMD remedies will vary so we will contact your insurance carrier to help you understand and calculate your out-of-pocket costs. Whether you have dental insurance or not, Dr. Heher will review cost estimates when reviewing treatment options. To make all treatments more affordable, Smiles! Dentistry by Dr. Joseph Heher accepts many payment methods and we can help you find low-interest medical financing.
Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) pain makes it difficult to chew, speak, and enjoy your day-to-day life. Since there are many possible causes, symptoms, and solutions for temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMD), schedule a consultation with Dr. Joseph Heher at his office in Salisbury, MD. He will guide you thorough examination before your diagnosis and discuss treatment options. Contact the team at Smiles! Dentistry by Dr. Joseph Heher to get more information and to schedule an appointment.