Smile Missoula

Andrew C. Althauser, DDS
Ste C, 237 SW Higgins Avenue
Missoula, MT 59803-1485
(406) 721-2830
Monday - Thursday 8am - 5pm
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Bite/Bruxism/TMJ Services

Temporalmandibular joint dysfunction more commonly known as TMJ, affects more than fifteen percent of American adults. Common symptoms include an uncomfortable bite, pain in or around the ear, headaches, bruxism (grinding of the teeth), tenderness of the jaw, clicking or popping noises when opening and closing the mouth, and even neck aches. Other TMJ symptoms may include:

Facial pain
Tooth sensitivity to hot and cold
Difficulty chewing
Locked jaw
Inability to bite all the way down
Limited mouth opening
Changing bite
Tinnitus (ringing in ears)
Muffled ears
Worn down teeth
Loose teeth
Broken teeth
Gum recession
Bone loss around the teeth
Clenching or bruxing

There are many causes of TMJ disorders including traumatic injury to the chin, jaw, or TMJ itself, missing back teeth, and/or poor alignment of the jaws, poor alignment of the teeth, arthritis, stressful situations, normal tooth wear over time, or poor dental treatment that adversely affected the bite to a more open or closed position than normal. These disorders often lead to clenching of the teeth during the day and grinding of the teeth while sleeping (Bruxism), which in turn causes a great deal of damage to the teeth and the TMJ itself. Failure to treat TMJ dysfunction early on, can lead to serious damage of the joint and possible surgical intervention.

Headaches are one of the most common symptoms of TMJ disorders. 40 million Americans who suffer from headaches may have been improperly diagnosed. “Migraines”, tension headaches, and sometimes even “sinus” headaches are diagnosed based on subjective symptoms reported by the patient, sometimes leading to incorrect diagnosis and treatment. Medical specialists may not be aware of the link between the bite and headaches. Most people with this condition were not aware of what a correct bite felt like because they always had a conflict between their teeth and jaw. We are trained to determine whether there is a link between headaches and the bite for individuals we see with headaches. We can treat these problems without medicine with appliances and by helping the bite fit better with various treatment modalities including bite analysis, equilibration, night guards,

Dr. Olsen has devoted many hours of advanced dental training to the study and treatment of TMJ disorders. It is Dr. Olsen’s goal to achieve maximum improvement with comfort and normal function, while using the least invasive and conservative treatment possible. For most patients, the ideal result can be achieved, while for others, depending on the nature and stage of the illness, effective management is the maximum goal. Depending on the nature and severity of an individual’s condition, the appropriate therapy is determined. For some, simple treatment designed to relax the muscles and reduce inflammation such as splint therapy and equilibration is used. For others, more comprehensive diagnostics and dental restorations are needed.

For questions about headaches, bruxism, or TMJ, please contact Smile Missoula for more information.