TMJ (temporo-mandibular joint) disorders, also know as TMD or just TMJ, affect a fairly large percentage of the population. The most common symptoms of TMD are clicking or popping of the jaw, grinding of teeth, frequent headaches, neckaches and backaches, and ringing in the ears (tinnitus.) In some cases, TMD may not have any symptoms at all, but the signs of TMD will still be present. These signs include limited mouth opening, a deviation of the jaw to one side when opening, or worn down teeth. The treatment for TMD depends on the diagnosis. In the past, treatment was limited to muscle relaxants, pain killers, and night guards. In extreme cases, surgery of the joint was performed, but the success was variable. With more modern techniques, treatment has become predictable and comfortable, and rarely requires surgery. The reason diagnosis of TMD is critical is that TMD has been called the great imposter. The symptoms can mimic so many other diseases that sorting out the true cause can be difficult. Often, TMD is only diagnosed after the patient has been through numerous medical tests to rule out serious disorders such as brain tumors, neurological disorders, and psychological disorders. Sadly, when the doctors cant come up with a diagnosis, the patient is often told, its all in your head. On the other hand, many patients who have all the symptoms of TMD are suffering from some other structural imbalance, often in the neck or the back. Neck and back problems can also cause headaches and grinding of the teeth. Therefore it is critical to obtain proper diagnostic information before proceeding with any treatment. At Fairlington Dental, diagnosis includes MRI studies of the jaw joint, Tomographic x-rays, and autonomic nerve tests. The most common finding is a slipped disk in one or both jaw joints, and most of the time the patient was not aware of this condition. A proper medical history can often pinpoint the cause or incident when the condition first occurred. Treatment is custom tailored to each individual, and often involves two appliances: one worn during the day and a separate one worn at night. Average treatment time is three to six months and requires the patient to return to our office approximately every four weeks for adjustments. We work closely with referring dentists, as well as chiropractors, osteopathic physicians, massage therapists, and physical therapists to obtain optimum results.