What’s the first step in TMJ Treatment?

If you have jaw popping or clicking, chronic headaches, ear ringing, clogged ears, neck pain or other painful symptoms, you may have TMJ Disorders. Your temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is a hinge that connects your jaw to the temporal bones of your skull, which are in front of each ear. Problems with your jaw and the muscles in your face that control it are known as temporomandibular disorders (TMD). TMD often causes severe pain and affects your quality of life. You could find relief where you least expect it, at your dentist.

But often patients who experience painful TMJ symptoms aren’t sure about the first step toward relief. This blog post explains exactly what to do first in order to get relief from painful TMJ symptoms.

First Choice Dental offers free TMJ consultations to help you discern whether or not this could alleviate your symptoms. You can schedule one of these free consultations right now, online, if you like. If you’re already a First Choice Dental patient, your First Choice Dental dentist can often help you identify possible TMJ issues during your regular dental checkups by asking if you’ve experienced any of the above symptoms. A dentist’s physical exam may also reveal popping or clicking in the jaws, which could prompt a referral to our dentist Dr. Brian Fick, who has received advanced training in TMJ Therapy.

Whether or not you have been referred by a First Choice Dental or other dentist, Dr. Brian Fick is happy to see you for a free TMJ consultation at our Park Street office.

This no-charge TMJ consultation includes a TMJ exam. Dr. Fick will conduct a physical examination of your mouth and your jaw, paying special attention to areas of discomfort for you. Dr. Fick will explain exactly what TMJ is. And if this physical exam suggests you do have TMJ Disorder, he will explain your options for next steps or treatment.

How will my dentist know if I’m a TMJ patient or not?
If your dentist has received advanced TMJ therapy training like Dr. Brian Fick has, a physical exam and discussion of your symptoms will reveal whether or not you have TMJ Disorder. TMJ treatment is for a patient that has a jaw that doesn’t match up correctly, causing the TMJ joint to align in appropriately, causing pain. This is what Dr. Fick determine in your first appointment, the no-charge TMJ exam.

If I do have TMJ, what’s the next step?
If you’re diagnosed with TMJ Disorder at your free consultation, Dr. Fick will explain options and costs for treatment. TMJ treatment can be expensive, but often your medical insurance will cover a good portion of the cost. Unity and Alliance plans are two examples that usually cover TMJ treatment. TMJ treatment requires both compliance and commitment on the part of the patient to make it work. As Dr. Fick says, “If you’re going to make the investment, you may as well be ready to follow your doctor’s advice, or you won’t be happy with the results.” Since therapy will involve wearing an orthotic device most of the day and night, patients need to be ready for this sacrifice.

Dr. Fick is very forthright with patients about what’s involved, and gives you the information you need in order to decide if your symptoms are painful enough and impacting your life enough to pursue treatment that will cost thousands. We’ve found that patients whose lives are severely impacted by chronic pain are ready to make the necessary commitment to experience relief for the first time in a long time. They describe the results as “priceless”. About one third of patients who are seen for the initial no-charge exam decide their symptoms are severe enough to make the commitment to pursue therapy. Others opt not to pursue treatment initially, but often return for treatment at a later date when symptoms have gotten worse.

When you’re ready to pursue TMJ treatment, your next step will involve a lengthy, all-morning or all-afternoon therapy appointment with Dr. Fick to begin the first stages of treatment. We’ll take a comprehensive set of x-rays and images, use special equipment called “tensing equipment” to assess your jaw’s natural position and take impressions so that you can be fitted for an orthotic device to adjust your bite.

Once your orthotic device is ready in a week or two after your first treatment appointment, he’ll make sure it fits properly and instruct you on wearing the device for most effective results. Throughout months of therapy, you’ll have a number of appointments for adjustments and progress checks.

Will the investment in TMJ Therapy be worth it?
If the experience of our patients is any indication, absolutely. Some TMJ patients have even described the results of their TMJ Therapy as “life-changing”. Once you’ve gotten to the point where your symptoms affect eating, your comfort and even your sleep, TMJ Therapy can restore your quality of life and make you feel like yourself again. Only you can decide if you’re at that point.

The good news is that exploring your options costs nothing. Schedule a free TMJ consultation online today and see if your TMJ dentist can help you experience relief from pain and suffering associated with TMJ Disorder.