An Interview with Dr. Robert J. Moretta on TMJ
Q. What is TMJ?
A. The temporomandibular joint ( TMJ) is the main jaw joint. This joint is prone
to developing a dysfunction or disorder, causing pain throughout the jaw, face,
head, and even neck and shoulders. Although TMJ is the actual jaw joint, the acronym
is often used to describe the syndrome or disorder. More appropriately, TMD is used,
but the two are often interchanged freely.
TMJ/TMD can cause not only pain and discomfort, but also a slow erosion of the teeth.
When the jaw is misaligned, teeth may become worn or chipped.
Q. How do I know if I have TMJ?
A. TMJ has numerous symptoms. These may include.
- Facial pain
- Jaw pain
- Neck and/or shoulder pain
- Popping or clicking of the jaw
- Worn or chipped teeth
- Limited jaw movement
- Ringing in the ears
Unfortunately some patients do not realize that the pain and discomfort that they
are experiencing is due to TMJ syndrome. These patients either mask the pain with
over the counter pain relievers or seek advice from their primary care physician,
all the while delaying the relief that dentistry can provide.
Q. Can pain killers help in treating TMJ syndrome?
A. Over the counter pain killers can only help with pain. They do not take away
the underlying problem.
Q. Who should treat TMD?
A. A qualified dentist, that has taken special classes in the treatment of
TMD is the best choice.
Q. What should you expect from a TMD dentist?
A. The initial consultation should consist of an in depth questionnaire and a through
exam of your head and neck region as well as an intra-oral exam and a complete series
of x-rays. This is to be certain that the problem is indeed a TMJ condition and
not some other underlying pathology.
Q. What results can I expect from surgery?
A. Personally, I would almost never recommend TMJ surgery. Surgery would be only
for the most extreme cases.
Q. Is TMJ/TMD covered by insurance?
A. Every insurance company has different policies concerning any dental treatment.
It would be best to consult with your individual insurance plan to see if TMD treatment
is a covered benefit.
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