Kasia D. Lopez, DDS / PureDental

Chicago TMJ Dentist

An illustration about TMJ for Chicago TMJ dentist

One of the most complex joints in your body is the temporomandibular joint, which is capable of both sliding back and forth as well as hinge motion.

TMJ disorder is the malfunction of this joint. There are many possible causes for this disorder, including arthritis, traumatic injury, or bite discrepancies due to missing teeth or poorly done dental work.

Symptoms would include noises in the joint, limitation of joint movement, or pain. And that pain can sometimes be debilitating, including intense pain and muscle spasms.

What is a TMJ Dentist?

There is no recognized specialty in TMJ, therefore no one can actually be called a TMJ Dentist. Dr. Lopez is licensed as a general dentist. However, she has dedicated herself to receiving considerable additional training in order to help her patients suffering from this disorder.

Dr. Lopez's TMJ Credentials

Dr. Lopez is a member of the International Academy of Cranio-Facial Pain, which is dedicated to the study of TMJ disorder.

She has had extensive post-graduate training in neuromuscular dentistry at the Las Vegas Institute for Advanced Dental Studies. Neuromuscular dentistry is the study of the nerves and muscles that are a part of the functioning of the temporomandibular joint, and the treatment of TMJ disorder.

Dr. Lopez has also studied with Dr. Jay Gerber and Dr. Brock Rondeau, leaders in the TMJ field.

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Symptoms of TMJ Disorder

There are many symptoms of this disorder. A partial list is included here. If you are suffering from some or all of these symptoms, give us a call. We'll be happy to see you.

  • Excessive grinding of the teeth or clenching
  • Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
  • Limited range in opening the mouth (either inability to open all the way, or inability to close all the way)
  • Unexplained loose teeth
  • Worn, chipped or cracked teeth
  • A deviation of the jaw to one side when opened
  • Pain in the chewing muscles
  • Headaches in the temporal area
  • Ear aches
  • Noises in the joint, such as clicking, popping, grinding or crackling (crepitus)
  • Numbness in fingers or arms

Treatment of TMJ Disorder

Before beginning any treatment, we need to focus on the diagnosis. You need to understand that this disorder is very complex, involving a very complex joint, the muscles attached, and complex relationships among the teeth. Dr. Lopez will need to have a comprehensive examination to determine where to start with your case.

Once the diagnosis is complete, there are two phases in your treatment.

Pain Relief

The first phase is relief of pain. There are several ways this can be handled which include moist heat, medications, orthotics, or possibly other options.

A Permanent Solution

Phase two is to develop a permanent solution for you. Often, that treatment will involve correcting the way your teeth fit together. If the problem is a lack of harmony in your bite, the goal is for Dr. Lopez to stabilize your bite, so that your teeth, muscles, and joints will work together in harmony without strain.

Sometimes the treatment is simple. If you have a displaced disc, a simple orthotic that you wear for a period of time can ease that disc into the correct position. However, more involved treatment may be required. Bite adjustments (called equilibrations) may be needed.. Depending on the severity of your case, it may be necessary to do a full-mouth reconstruction in order to completely rebuild your bite. In other cases, surgery on your jaw joint may be needed.

If you're wondering whether or not you have TMJ disorder or have questions about what Dr. Lopez can do for you, we'd be happy to see you for a complimentary consultation. For about 10 or 15 minutes, you can meet with Dr. Lopez and ask questions, to see if you'd like to schedule a comprehensive examination. Visit our request an appointment page, or call us at (773) 904-8400.

Chicago TMJ Dentist