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Occlusal Splint Therapy

Frequently, headaches, facial or neck pain can be traced to what is called Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction or "TMJD".

Actually, this condition should be thought of as a problem within the entire chewing system, not just the jaw joint. TMJ dysfunction may be caused by misalignment of the jaws where they hinge, or by disharmony between teeth and jaws. If the joint is painful, or tends to click or catch, this could be an early warning sign. Other symptoms may be muscle pain, or limitation of jaw movements. There are often other symptoms that the patient does not detect. These could include any or all of the following: tooth wear, receding gums, notching of the teeth at the gum line, and adverse bony changes within the joint. Treatment can reduce or eliminate the possibility of further damage.

DSC06072When a patient exhibits the signs and symptoms of TMJ dysfunction we first do an evaluation, including a history and clinical examination. If Dr. Ma determines that we can help, she may order a set of diagnostic records, such as dental molds mounted on an articulator and x-ray images of the head, face and the jaw joints. Note we said “images”. We are excited to tell you about the newest technology in dental-facial imaging It is called I-CAT, of cone beam CT. This high tech imaging process is like a cat scan with a fraction of the cost and radiation exposure. With this process Dr. Ma can obtain multiple, high quality views of the jaw joints in all three planes of space at a very reasonable cost. Of course, this equipment is extremely expensive and requires professionally trained personnel to use it. We send our patient to a nearby laboratory to obtain these images.

DSC07406 Once all the necessary data has been collected, Dr. Ma will study it to arrive at a diagnosis and treatment options. At a subsequent appointment Dr. Ma explains all aspects of your case, and helps you decide what course of action is best for you.

Treatment for TMJ dysfunction usually involves splint therapy. The splint is a very effective appliance that is custom made for each individual. Dr. Ma will adjust the splint as needed to reduce painful symptoms and stabilize the chewing system.