TMJ stands for the Temporomandibular Joint. Dysfunction of the TMJ is referred to as TMD (temporomandibular dysfunction). TMD is a disorder of one or both of the two small, joints in front of your ears that control the movement of your jaw. When either of these joints is out of alignment, chronic jaw popping, clicking, and pain will often result.
Dr. Singer, call our office in Alexandria, VA at Old Town Alexandria Office Phone Number 703-299-4614 or
call our Washington, DC office at Washington DC Office Phone Number 202-912-9200.
These joints operate together, so even if only one of the joints is functioning abnormally, it will affect the other. Often, the joint that feels the pain is engaged in compensating movements for the other joint, which is actually the cause of the problem.
The jaw joint is composed of the lower jawbone condyles of the mandible (mandible) and the glenoid fossa of the temporal bone at the side of the skull, which are attached to each other by ligaments, tendons, and muscles. The lower bones are connected to the skull by ligaments, tendons and muscles.
A pad of fibro-cartilage called the articular disc acts as a friction absorber to prevent the bones from rubbing against each other, and it assists in gliding and rotational movement. TMJ disorders usually begin as a displacement of this disc and then progress to osteoarthritis or degenerative joint disease.
TMJ pain is often associated with problems with malalignment of the teeth and bite. In turn, TMJ can stem from another cause and then lead to issues with the bite, the teeth, and the gums (such as sleep apnea or sleep disordered bruxism). The temporomandibular joint is very complex, and a large number of muscles, ligaments, and bones are involved in its function. Therefore, TMJ problems are also implicated in a variety of spinal and muscular disorders throughout the body.
Throughout the American dental community, interdisciplinary dentists like Dr. Singer at DC Smiles agree that TMJ issues are more common and far-reaching than most people realize. In fact, one in every four Americans has a TMJ disorder (TMD).
Besides jaw popping and clicking, other symptoms of TMD include:
- Limited range of motion of the jaw
- Pain when chewing
- Chronic migraines
- Teeth clenching or grinding (bruxism)
- Sensitive teeth
- Inflammation and/or pain in the jaw or cheeks
- Bite malalignment
- Ear ringing or tinnitus
- Difficulty swallowing
- Chronically tired, sore neck muscles
- Pain and tingling in the fingers
- Snoring and sleep apnea
- Loss of balance
- Facial asymmetry
- Throat pain
- Pressure behind the eyes
Causes of TMJ Issues
What causes TMD? These joints are extremely sensitive to external stimuli. Clenching or grinding of the teeth can cause TMD, as can improper bite position as a result of injury, crooked teeth, or improperly done orthodontics. Arthritis and other diseases can be potential causes, as well as posture, spine, or neck issues.
Dr. Singer routinely treats TMJ disorders with non-surgical, non-invasive, oral appliance therapy. This usually involves customized orthotics so that the muscles, bones, and teeth can function in a more neurologically correct manner. Adjunctive treatments include trigger point therapy, prolotherapy, and PRP (platelet rich plasma injections). These orthotics also alleviate bruxism (teeth grinding).
Treatments may include:
- Physical therapy in order to correct posture and stretch muscles that have shortened over time.
- Stress management and relaxation techniques if stress-induced bruxism (teeth grinding) is involved in TMD symptoms.
- Prolotherapy injections to assist in the healing of soft tissue conditions
- Alpha Stim a microcurrent device for pain management
- Low level laser therapy
- Nutritional counseling and supplements
- Behavior modification
- Craniosacral therapy a hands-on treatment that releases restrictions in soft tissue
- Iontophoresis a technique that applies a weak electric current to introduce ionic medical compounds into the body to reduce inflammation
- Spray & Stretch a technique in which a coolant is sprayed on a muscle to release tension, allowing the muscle to be manually and gently stretched
- Trigger point injections medication injected directly into muscle spasms
- Referrals to other physicians
- In severe cases, surgical referral may be necessary
Dr. Singer will customize a treatment plan for you based on his diagnosis that takes the specifics of your case into account. As always, his philosophy is holistic in nature and looks at all of the potential causes and contributory influences of TMD.
Patient Review from Tim W
Dr. Singer treated my TMJ successfully and gave ample explanation of the underlying causes. Throughout treatment he and his staff were professional and extremely approachable.
- Tim W
Patient Review from Kristy M
I saw Dr Singer for TMJ and completed retainer therapy. My pain and jaw clicking was eliminated by the end of the treatment.
- Kristy M
Patient Review from Brian R
I struggled with severe TMJ issues for 6 years before I found my way to Dr. Singer. Four months into the treatment, I was nearly painfree. I went from being almost entirely seditary to now resuming a physically active lifestyle in just under 5 months. If anyone is seeking help for any TMJ related issue, Dr. Singer is the physician for you.
- Brian R
Patient Review from Cherie T
I have been in chronic pain and sleeplessness. I wondered if anything could help and maxed out on PT and the chiropractor. Who knew my jaw was the major cause of all this. I feel much better and can finally get a good night's sleep
- Cherie T
Patient Review from Jennifer F
The doctor and staff are truly amazing and I can tell they genuinely care about my health. The reason for my 3 star review is that the treatments I received were only partially successful and the cost was very high relative to my income. If it had been 100% successful it would be a different story, but considering I'm on a limited budget, I had hoped for better results considering how much debt I incurred to get treatment.
- Jennifer F
Patient Review from Gretchen S
I visited Dr. Singer's office after years of jaw pain - sometimes so severe that I could barely open my mouth. I had been diagnosed with TMJ decades ago, but never found a doctor that could help, until I went to DC Smiles. After a thorough check-up, they determined that wearing a removable splint would relax my overworked jaw muscles. Within a week, the change was already night-and-day. Within six months, all the pain was gone, and I could use my jaw without clicking or tightness. Afterward, we continued to follow up, honing in on reasons for my neck and jaw to become tight. They are part of a great network of experts, including a chiropractor that has also helped to lessen my shoulder tightness, and an ENT that diagnosed other issues with my sinuses. Although they are out of network, they worked with me to submit paperwork to my insurance, and I received the proper reimbursement within months. The most important part is that they provide specific instructions - and by following them to the letter, I was able to have an extremely rapid recovery. It was worth every cent, and I continue to schedule visits to ensure that I maintain my new healthy lifestyle. Thank you, Dr. Singer and team!
- Gretchen S
Patient Review from Xavier W
Im very thankful for this office because it allowed me to pinpoint what my issues i had with my health. The first time i came here i had sleepapnea, tmj, overweight and neurological issues. This was a very dark moment in my life because I couldn't figure out what was wrong with me. Before i came here I was 325 ld now im 265ld. without dr singer knowledge i wouldn't have lost the weight. Now my goal is to keep the weight loss journey going until i loss 100 ld. Im back on my feet and feeling much better.
- Xavier W
Patient Review from Brian R
This practice is absolutely wonderful. Dr. Singer is incredibly kind, on top of being a phenomenal doctor, and cares deeply about his patients. The staff is always very pleasant and easy to work with. If you need any TMJ/Dental work, this is definitely the practice for it. I couldn't have asked for a better practice to handle my care!
- Brian R
Patient Review from German Sturzenegger
I look forward to a full recovery.
- German Sturzenegger
Patient Review from Kate B
NOVA Smiles is the best care in a beautiful setting. The staff is professional and friendly, always help you get a quick appointment if you need it. Dr. Singer is like family, he really cares about your overall health and understands both the medical and cosmetic side of dental care. I have been going here for years and always recommend to all my friends!
- Kate B
I found Dr. Singer very knowledgeable and his comments very helpful.
Patient Review from DOREEN C
I CAN'T SAY ENOUGH GOOD THINGS. MY TMJ PAIN IS GONE...AT LAST! I HAVE HAD BRACES FOR APPROXIMATELY FIVE MONTHS AND THERE IS ALREADY A REMARKABLE DIFFERENCE IN THE SYMMETRY OF MY SMILE.
- DOREEN C
Patient Review from Vincent J
Best dental experience I've had. I'm very happy.
- Vincent J