With over 35 years of experience in treating, teaching, and studying the complexities of three-dimensional joint function, Dr. Rich believes strongly in a philosophy of conservative and non-surgical treatment when it comes to the disorders of the jaw. Congenitally malformed joints are extremely rare, and most other forms of TMJ dysfunction respond extremely well to a non-surgical approach.
In diagnosing TMJ dysfunction, Dr. Rich is very careful to consider all the possible contributing factors. She begins with a thorough examination that includes pain and trauma history, muscle and joint palpation, consideration of tooth position, and range of motion studies. If appropriate, Dr. Rich may then choose to use advanced diagnostic instrumentation to further evaluate the functional relationships between the joints, facial muscles, and bite position in conjunction with corrective treatment, or in more complex cases, before making the final diagnoses and treatment recommendations.
In many cases, a period of time in a simple splint or orthotic, combined with the ongoing use of a nighttime appliance, can provide enough rest to the system to alleviate any pain symptoms and allow for the comfortable function of the joints and muscles. When the imbalance is more severe, however, other options for long-term stabilization of the joints may be explored, including orthodontics and partial or full-mouth reconstruction if necessary.
Unraveling the factors contributing to TMJ dysfunction can be a complex and very individual process. In many cases, Dr. Rich will partner with physical therapists, massage therapists, chiropractors, osteopathic and naturopathic physicians, acupuncturists, and other health care practitioners to ensure that each client has a solid self-care and rehabilitation routine to work with both during and after treatment.
TMJ-related treatments available within our practice include, but are not limited to:
Successful rehabilitation of the TMJ often requires the development of a regular self-care routine and a deeper sense of physical self-awareness. Dr. Rich has compiled a comprehensive set of resources for you to use at home to help you better understand your body and support its healing. All of this information is designed to help alleviate the most common symptoms associated with TMJ dysfunction, but is not intended as a replacement for proper treatment by a dentist familiar with TMD and neuromuscular principles.
While none of these home-care recommendations will hurt you to try, persistent headaches, joint and facial pain, as well as continual joint locking are all indications that further treatment may be necessary in order to fully stabilize your joints and muscles. Always listen to your body and stop any therapeutic exercise or activity that causes you more pain.
What is TMJ?
What is a Neuromuscular Dentist?
Home Care for Your Jaw
The Headache Series:
Exercise, Rest, and Stress
Jaw Injuries and Muscle Strain