When chronic headaches and facial pain occur, you may consider heading to your family physician’s office, but a trip to the dentist may be the more appropriate choice. If clicking and popping in the jaw are also symptoms, you likely have a condition called temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder. Dr. Tor Gotun at Austin Smile Creations has extensive training, which
he constantly updates, as well as thirty years of experience in this
area. In fact, he is one of the best neuromuscular dentists in the
Dr. Gotun's approach to my TMJ problem went beyond the dental norm. He looked at it at a head problem first, looking at all possibilities. Other dentists wanted to break my jaw. He finally decided on a slow alignment approach. He even sent me to a chiropractor first, just to rule out spinal problems.
5 / 5 stars
Bringing cutting-edge technology to Austin. One of the newest ways to
approach TMD treatment is Low Level Laser Therapy. Dr. Gotun owns the
only Thor Low Level Laser in Austin which he applies for TMJ treatment among other uses. The course of treatment will be recommended based on individual needs of the patient. In general several sessions a week will be necessary in the beginning, then with time reduced to once a week and then to as needed. It is completely non-invasive, painless and extremely effective. We've had great success treating patients in Austin with this laser.
TMJ Dysfunction Causes and Symptoms
A condition affecting the jaw joints and the surrounding facial muscles, TMJ disorder, also called TMJ dysfunction and TMD, can stem from a number of possible causes. Temporomandibular disorder (TMD) most often originates as a
neuromuscular problem. It can occur as a result of dislocation or
injury, genetic discrepancies, and sometimes it can be linked to
arthritis. Often, TMD is associated with stress. Nearly everyone has
some level of TMD. However, in some cases, TMD becomes truly painful and
can interfere with everyday life. Stress, which causes you to grind and clench your teeth, can place pressure on the TMJs. This tightening of the facial muscles most often occurs during sleep, but can also happen during the day and place a continuous strain on the jaws. Damage to the temporomandibular joints, such as that sustained from a blow to the face, disk erosion, or cartilage wear from arthritis, can also cause improper functioning of the jaw. Likewise, a misaligned bite can place undue strain on the jaw joints and make everyday oral functioning difficult and painful. Symptoms can include jaw pain, headaches, facial pain, neck pain, difficulty opening or closing the mouth, clicking in the jaw when opening and closing the mouth, and ringing in the ears.
Symptoms of TMJ Disorder:
- Tenderness of the jaw and jaw pain
- Neck pain
- Pain in and around the ears
- Chronic headaches
- Clicking or popping noise when you open your mouth or yawn
Symptoms vary from person to person. Other
combinations of symptoms include muscle spasms, fractured or loose
teeth, ringing in the ears, difficulty swallowing, earaches, and the
inability to chew, bite or open your mouth.
Diagnosing TMJ Disorder
At your initial consultation, your Austin TMJ dentist will perform a physical examination of your jaws, which includes pressing on certain areas of the face to detect sites of tenderness, observing the range of motion as you open and close your mouth, listening for popping sounds and checking the alignment of your bite. Dr. Gotun will also speak with you about your general health, medical history, and lifestyle to determine which further diagnostics is appropriate for you.
For some, simple exercises can relieve the
pain associated with TMD. Relaxation and stress control can
significantly reduce the symptoms as well. However, some cases are more
As long as TMD is limited to the muscles, Dr. Gotun has a fair
chance of improving and even correcting the problem. However, if TMD is
not immediately addressed and becomes a joint problem (intracapsular
problem) it can become very difficult to find a permanent solution
Each case is different.
That is why we create an individual comprehensive plan to address the
causes of the problems, in order to manage pain and eventually restore
the masticatory system to the best condition possible. The best solution
is to seek help at the first sign of problems. This allows us to
address the disease before it ends up being non-responsive to any
We may also refer you for additional
support to a trusted colleague in a field such as chiropractic or
physical therapy to address other possible neuromuscular problems
contributing to this condition. Some cases benefit from counseling,
others from pharmaceuticals such as muscle relaxers, NSAIDs, or even
antipsychotics. Dentox (a form of Botox used in dentistry) is effective,
given the right circumstances.
Types of TMJ Disorders.
It is important to note that while
the term TM Disorders is named for the temporomandibular joints, only
20-25% of patients have a pure joint-related problem. The rest suffer
from a combination of muscular, joint and nerve pains that fit into the
following broad categories:
- Joint related (internal derangements of the TM joint)
- Muscle related (myofascial pain and trigger points)
- Neck related (craniocervical disorders)
- Orofacial Pains
- Nerve related Orofacial Pains (neurogenic pain or neuralgias)
- Stress related Orofacial Pains (psychogenic and psychosocial pain disorders)
How We Approach the Treatment.
Dr. Gotun utilizes splint therapy,
using different splints that serve specific purposes to address problems
that manifest themselves due to the way the teeth come in contact with
each other. There are many possible causes of such imbalances, and some
of them can be partly or completely corrected. To do this, we use splint
therapy of different levels. A splint is a highly accurate therapeutic
plastic mouthguard specifically designed for you to restore a resting
balance of the muscles in the masticatory system with the precision
within 5/10,000“. The splint treatment often is followed by an
equilibration (grinding of the surface of the teeth where needed to
correct the imbalance) or by rebuilding the teeth with crowns, or both.
The good news is that no matter
the mildness or severity of TMJ disorder conditions, there may be ways
to approach the problem and achieve a positive result. If you suspect
you have a TMJ disorder, or have been given a diagnosis that you do, the
sooner you make the decision to do something about it, the more likely
you will be to achieve a favorable outcome. The keys to success are a comprehensive approach to treatment and full cooperation and commitment from the patient. The
right combination of treatment options, addressing contributing
factors, and changes in one’s lifestyle can do miracles for even the
most seemingly hopeless conditions.
Relief for TMJ Disorder in Austin, TX
Dr. Gotun is well known for his
expertise in TMD treatments, and there is no doubt that choosing our
practice to help you is a great first step. We have the knowledge,
expertise and experience in helping cases like yours. Dr. Tor Gotun is one of fewer than 200 dentists in North America to receive the Lifelong Learning & Service Recognition award from the Academy of General Dentistry and is dedicated to providing the most advanced treatments for TMJ disorder in Austin. If you suspect you have the condition, contact us at Austin Smile Creations as soon as possible to schedule your appointment.