Cedar Falls, IA – Dr. Thomas J. Horak, a Cedar Falls dentist, says that while some patients will specifically complain about jaw or jaw joint (Temporomandibular Joint or TMJ) pain, many of his patients do not realize they are suffering from Temporomandibular Disorder (TMD). Patients will arrive at his practice with complaints of headaches, sore muscles, and excessive tiredness in the mornings without knowing why. Dr. Horak checks his patients for possible symptoms of TMD during his routine dental evaluations to determine whether further tests should be administered.
When examining a patient for TMD, Dr. Horak conducts a comprehensive muscle and temporomandibular joint evaluation. The evaluation includes checking the range of motion of the jaw, palpating the facial muscles to test for soreness, and observing the function and fit of the teeth for instability or wear. He also checks the jaw joints for clicking or popping (crepitus) along with the teeth to determine if the problem is an internal joint issue with the cartilage between the jawbone and the skull out of place or damaged, or if the problem is a muscle issue related to a patient’s clenching and grinding habits. In both cases, a patient can find relief by wearing a small flat plastic appliance that covers the lower teeth. Dr. Horak says patients can experience significant improvement by faithfully and routinely wearing the device at night. This dental appliance relaxes the facial muscles and allows teeth to function in an ideal way that allows the jaw joint itself to heal. In addition to reducing the stress on the jaw joint with a dental appliance, Dr. Horak occasionally recommends physical therapy, anti-inflammatories, or muscle relaxers for severe cases.
After a successful TMD treatment, many patients will experience better sleep and often notice a reduction in headaches. Their overall quality of life improves as they have an increased range of motion and function in the jaw and teeth that allow them to more comfortably eat, chew, and speak. Dr. Horak says many patients of his Cedar Falls dentistry practice report that TMD treatments have changed their lives—that his patients never realized that they did not need to live with headaches, muscle pains, uncomfortable jaw pain, and tense or sore facial muscles. He says after treatment many of his patients feel like a younger version of themselves.
About Thomas J. Horak,
Dr. Bryan Horak earned his BS from the University of Iowa and his from the University of Iowa School of Dentistry. Immediately following graduation, he established a fee-for-service dental practice in Albert Lea, Minnesota. In 1996, he decided to move back to Iowa to take over the dental practice he grew up in from his mentor, Dr. Jim McCutcheon. Dr. Horak has volunteered on 15 different dental mission trips to Honduras, Panama, the Himalayan Mountains in India, and a mission trip with Habitat for Humanity in Jamaica. He has also been involved in local mission work including the Iowa Mission of Mercy in Waterloo, Give Kids a Smile, and has participated in the Donated Dental Services Program. Dr. Horak offers a wide variety of procedures, from porcelain veneers to dental implants.
To contact Dr. Horak’s practice, visit his website at strubdds.com or call 319-266-3545. The practice’s office is located at 715 Bluegrass Circle, Cedar Falls, IA 50613. The practice’s Facebook page can be found at facebook.com/Horak.