TMJ treatment and dental splints are areas in which Dr. Jaksa has significant continuing education and clinical expertise. Much of his continuing education has been, and continues to be focused on TMJ treatment, as well as bite (function issues).
Perhaps the most important part of your initial comprehensive exam involves examination and discussion of the health of your temporomandibular joints (TMJ). Your TMJs are the hinges for your biting or masticatory system which also includes your biting muscles and your teeth.
TMJs can be damaged from trauma or dental malocclusion (a bad bite). TMJ problems can be progressive in nature, and may include clicks, pops or noises in the joint area, locking of the mouth open or closed, limited mouth opening, pain in the TMJ area, ringing in the ears, temporal headaches, bite muscle pain and associated problems with the teeth. Problems may include dental pain, cracked teeth, mobile teeth, bone loss around teeth, recession and abfractions (wearing away of enamel) of teeth.
TMJ treatment involves joint health assessment (TMJ exam) and appropriate treatment related to diagnosis. MRIs are used in some cases to find the extent of joint damage. Dental splints are used to establish the “perfect bite” to assess joint health and stability. Splints are assessed monthly to establish if the patient is pain free with a stable non-changing bite. Medications are used in some cases to reduce inflammation and reduce muscle activity. Other treatments involve restoring the bite to ideal function. This treatment could potentially include orthodontics, skeletal surgery, or TMJ surgery. If orthodontics or TMJ surgery is necessary, Dr. Jaksa works with a team of specialists that are among the best in the dental community.
In all TMJ treatment, our ultimate goal is to restore the bite to optimal bite or occlusion. Ideally, this follows two principles. The first principle is to have the teeth contact perfectly even with the TMJs in their correct anatomical position. The second principle is called anterior guidance. Anterior guidance is when the front teeth (ideally the canines) touch in all lateral tooth movements to prevent the back teeth from touching. This goal can be accomplished by different methods depending on the patient’s bite. Treatment can vary from minimal adjusting on the teeth (occlusal equilibration), to restorative dentistry, orthodontics, skeletal surgery, TMJ surgery, or even full mouth reconstruction. Understanding these principles is the basis of all our dentistry. Dr. Jaksa has extensive advanced education in this area at the highly respected Dawson Academy in St. Petersburg, Florida and The Spear Institute at Scottsdale Center for Dentistry in Scottsdale, AZ. These are perhaps the two most respected advanced dental learning centers in the world. He feels this allows him to be extremely competent in the area of TMJ health and treatment.
Dr. Gary Lunstad, Orthodontist
North Oaks, Minnesota