Treating a Long-Term Condition Without Surgery
TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint) and TMD (Temporomandibular Dysfunction) generally don’t start as an acute condition. The symptoms can be caused by many different types of problems, including arthritis, jaw injury, or muscle fatigue from clenching or grinding your teeth. Most people become conscious of their symptoms – ranging from annoying aches to debilitating headaches/migraines or neck, shoulder or back pain – only after they start impacting their quality of life.
Dr. Baier’s extensive training and teaching is based on non-surgical treatment of TMD to bring the jaw and bite back into alignment for long-term relief.
Sometimes, restoring jaw alignment can be as basic as repairing a chipped tooth or replacing a missing tooth or a worn-out crown or filling. Conditions inside your mouth change over time, and when they affect your bite, they can cause TMD.
In other cases, grinding your teeth during sleep can force your jaw out of alignment over time. A blow to the jaw or whiplash can force your jaw out of alignment immediately or over a shorter period of time. When we see those conditions, we look at splints or occlusal appliances as the first treatment option.
Occlusal Appliances are custom-designed and fabricated to reduce stress on your jaw, and they can only be prescribed after a thorough clinical examination. Occlusal Appliances allow muscles to function optimally and/or overcome issues affecting your bite. When the treatment works as designed for your condition, it can help the lower jaw reposition properly into its socket and reduce or eliminate pain.
If our clinical examination finds no structural disorders in the joint and Occlusal-Appliance therapy is successful, we can then restore occlusal equilibrium. This treatment involves selective reshaping of the biting surfaces of the teeth so that the jaw can close properly. Once the jaw can close properly, the body has a greater chance of healing itself.
In most cases, conservative treatment leads to successful outcomes for our patients. Only a very small percentage of patients with TMD require surgery to treat their illness.