2272 Barataria Blvd. Marrero, LA 70072

TMJ Therapy/Bite Correction

Did you know that your unexplained chronic headaches, earaches, and other facial pain could be caused by instability in the jaw joints (TMJ)?

Temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD), commonly known as TMJ, are a complex group of disorders, often characterized by chronic pain and limited mobility in the jaw. Few medical professionals have experience diagnosing and treating TMJ-related disorders. Doctors Maria Burmaster and Valerie Hemphill have focused much of their post-graduate training on restorative dentistry treatments like TMJ therapy and bite correction.

TMJ Therapy/Bite Correction new orleans la

Signs and Symptoms of TMJ Disorders

While there is no single cause for TMJ disorders, there are a number of factors that can contribute to the condition, most commonly, trauma to the head or face. Some patients experience TMJ pain, other signs and symptoms of TMJ disorders include:

  • Frequent headaches or migraine headaches
  • TMJ pain, pain in the jaw, face, neck, or shoulders
  • Popping or clicking in the jaw joints
  • Worn, chipped, or broken teeth
  • Teeth grinding
  • Chronic earaches
  • TMJ Treatment

Because TMJ disorders are so complex, there is no single course of TMJ treatment. After a careful review of the patient’s medical and dental history, as well as a comprehensive oral examination and diagnostic x-rays, our dentists will make a diagnosis and treatment plan.

Depending on the complexity of the condition, one or several treatments may be necessary to correct the instability and repair any damage to teeth or gums. TMJ treatment commonly includes oral appliance therapy such as a splint or mouth guard and occlusal equilibration to ensure proper contact of the upper and lower teeth.

How to Manage Daily TMJ Symptoms

Nightguards are not the only treatments for TMJ disorders. In addition to wearing a nightguard to alleviate jaw pain and bruxism, we will recommend other management techniques to make everyday life comfortable if you experience TMD.

Improve Your Posture

Your posture can exacerbate your TMJ symptoms. When your head leans forward and is not properly aligned with the spine,  you can carry more weight in your back and head. Bad posture can potentially close your airway. If your head is not in line with the spine, it can impact the alignment of the jaw muscles and contribute to TMD. Ensure you don’t slouch when reading, using your phone, or typing on a computer to prevent a forward head posture.

Use Heating Pads

If you experience pain in your temporomandibular joints or jaw, you can apply a heating pad to your joints in 15-minute increments. Warming the joints helps reduce swelling, increase blood flow, and decrease pain and discomfort in your joints and muscles.

Stop Smoking

Smoking can also worsen TMJ disorders. Patients who smoke can experience more pain in their jaw joints and TMJ. Nicotine decreases the absorption of oxygen into the bones and decreases blood flow. If you smoke and have TMJ, quitting smoking can decrease your TMJ pain.

Be Gentle With Your Jaw

As you address your TMJ disorder, being more gentle with your jaw can help minimize joint pain. Don’t open your jaw too wide when yawning, talking, or singing because you can loudly pop or click your jaw joints. You may also want to eat softer foods when experiencing days of aggravated TMJ pain.

Physical Therapy for TMJ Disorders

We will often recommend that patients attend physical therapy if they have TMD. Physical therapists teach TMJ patients exercises to improve joint mobility, decrease pain, and manage stress. They will also provide soft tissue mobilization treatments and manual or hands-on therapy, including massages. Physical therapy addresses TMJ and face pain and helps improve comfort in the back, arms, and neck muscles. Patients can utilize physical therapy in addition to at-home care and dental nightguards.

TMJ and Quality of Life

TMJ disorders can significantly affect your quality of life. For some patients, TMJ disorders are brought on by accidents or trauma. Other patients have chronic symptoms spanning years, often seeking treatment from other medical professionals without success. The goal of TMJ therapy at Barataria Dental is to educate the patient, restore instability and improve long-term quality of life.


What shouldn’t you do if you have TMJ?

Certain things will aggravate your condition and make it worse. Chewing gum is one of the main things. Constantly using your jaw and chewing increases the progression of the condition. Avoid chewing on just one side of your mouth when you’re eating, in order to keep things even. Don’t rest on your chin when you’re sitting and try to make yourself aware of any absent-minded teeth grinding or clenching during the day.

Is TMJ considered a disability?

No, it isn’t. Oftentimes, this condition is easily resolved and doesn’t lead to lifetime-long issues. Even in severe cases, it can be managed.

Am I at higher risk for TMJ?

Women are more likely to develop the condition than men. Genetics can also play a role in your risk prominence. If you have arthritis, certain connective tissue diseases, or chronic pain disorders, you’re at a higher risk as well. A history of grinding your teeth or a jaw injury can be the catalyst for developing TMJ. All of these factors make you more likely to develop the condition.

Does TMJ show up on my dental x-rays?

TMJ may only show up on x-rays if the underlying cause is something to do with the bone. X-rays won’t show abnormalities in the soft tissues connecting to the bones. An MRI is an ideal way to show the impact of TMJ.

Will I need surgery to treat my TMJ?

Surgery is only needed in very severe cases of TMJ. If the cause of your TMJ is injury or an extremely uneven bite, you may need surgery to correct it. Ensuring your jaw is in proper alignment can relieve most of your TMJ issues.

Will I have to deal with TMJ for the rest of my life?

No, TMJ isn’t a permanent condition. In severe cases, it’s a treatment collaboration between your dentist and your primary care physician. Oral appliance therapy helps to keep you from grinding your teeth and puts the jaw in the proper alignment when you’re sleeping. Exercises and physical therapy can also help release tension and ease discomfort.

Schedule a Consultation

If you have TMJ pain, chronic headaches, or other related symptoms, contact Barataria Dental to schedule a consultation with one of our highly trained dentists.