TMJ Treatment by St. Louis Dentist Dr. Gary Wiele

Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction (TMD) refers to pain associated with the jaw joint and related muscles used to move the jaw. Because there are many painful situations that can be related to the head and neck region, this term is often confusing, but in our St. Louis holistic dental office, we can determine whether you are experiencing symptoms related to TMD.

By focusing on the initial causes of your discomfort, holistic St. Louis dentist Dr. Gary Wiele designs treatment plans that are tailored to your body's biological nature and alleviates the symptoms of this condition.

What Is the Temporomandibular Joint?

The temporomandibular joint is a unique joint. Unlike the rest of the joints in the body, the jaw joint is not a ball and socket. Rather, the ball portion, or condyle, of the joint is shaped like an egg laying on its side. The corresponding socket, or glenoid fossa, is also shaped unlike other sockets in the body - rather than being shaped like a cup, the glenoid fossa resembles the underneath side of a child’s slide. There is a doughnut-shaped structure between the ball and socket, which is called a disc. This cartilage disc absorbs the pressure of the joint and helps ensure smooth function. 

How is TMJ Dysfunction Caused?

TMJ Treatment

Two things usually occur when this joint does not function properly:

  1. The ball slides back and up, distorting the enlarged portion of the disc. When this enlarged portion is distorted to the same thickness as the rest of the disc, the mechanical lock is lost and the disc can be displaced and then dislocated from its proper position. This slippage is often accompanied by a clicking sound.
  2. As a result, the muscles that move or support the jaw movements are forced to work harder and may become sore.  Over time this may injure the muscles, causing them to form areas called trigger points which can refer pain to other areas, such as the ear, jaw, joint, teeth, etc.

When left untreated, these conditions almost always get worse with time. The best hope for successfully treating TMD is to contact Dr. Wiele once the symptoms start and receive a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.

Holistic TMJ Disorder Therapy In St. Louis

The diagnosis of your TMJ disorder starts with an examination of your bite alignment as well as the temporomandibular joint. If you are experiencing a clicking jaw, Dr. Wiele may advise the use of a removable bite appliance called an orthotic. This appliance fits between the upper and lower teeth to hold the lower jaw slightly open and forward. A properly fit orthotic keeps the joint from sliding up and back, alleviating dislocation and disc distortion. 

Using this specialized dental appliance will help us determine whether your jaw is healthy enough to function normally. If the clicking stops in your jaw and you find yourself being able to function without pain or problems, then your jaw has retained a healthy position. Our goal moving forward is to have you maintain this jaw position without an orthotic. The orthotic appliance can usually be worn for three months without causing irreversible effects.

For patients with serious jaw misalignment, jaw surgery is another viable method of treating TMD. There are two types of surgeries performed for TMD patients: temporomandibular joint surgery and orthognathic surgery. Typically, however, joint surgery only treats the symptoms and may provide patients with a temporary fix. For a permanent solution, Dr. Wiele aims to treat the cause, recommending a more comprehensive and often multi-discipline treatment solution. 

Call Us Today!

St. Louis, MO dentist Dr. Gary Wiele is dedicated to providing patients with holistic, comprehensive treatment solutions. If you are experiencing symptoms of TMJ dysfunction, such as sore and stiff jaw muscles, pain in your jaw, neck, shoulders, or chronic headaches, be sure to schedule an appointment with Dr. Wiele today. 


Read what people are saying about us.

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I was not sure what to expect when I decided to try straightening my teeth for my daughter's wedding. There were only three months until the wedding and I really did not believe there would be significant results in such a short period of time. Furthermore, with a wedding in the near future, I was hesitant because I was not sure financially that this would be possible. I was extremely happy after meeting with Dr. Wiele and hearing what could be done with my teeth with the funds I had available. The entire three months went so quickly and the results were beautiful. I was amazed when the braces came off a week before the wedding and my teeth looked so straight and beautiful. The photographer did not have to ask me to smile for the pictures! If you would like to improve your smile, no matter what the reason or the financial situation, talk to Dr. Wiele and his staff. I'm sure glad I did!

Sharron Estes

Thank you all so much for going out of your way to perfect my smile. Everyone is always so wonderful to be around, it makes going to the dentist a fun experience. My teeth look wonderful and I am very pleased with the results. Thank you so much again for everything you have done and everything you continue to do.

Jill Bernard

I would like to thank Dr. Wiele and his staff for an unbelievable dental experience. I went from being terrified of dental work to actually being able to relax and rest in the chair. Thanks for the miracle you worked with my smile. I am truly grateful and realize I smile more than ever. I never knew it would look this awesome. You really are gifted from above!

Rodney Mills

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