TMJ Treatment: Your Guide to Temporomandibular Joint Disorder
The temporomandibular joint is the hinge that connects your jaw to your skull. We take a look at all you need to know about TMJ treatment.
Keyword(s): tmj treatment
Do you feel pain around your jaw when you eat or even just when you try to relax?
For over 10 million Americans, the temporomandibular joint is the culprit. The joint connects your jaw to your skull. If it experiences undue stress, it can result in what dentists refer to as TMJ disorders.
TMJ can be mildly annoying or downright painful, but you don’t need to live with it forever. Your dentist offers TMJ treatments that find the cause and ease the pain of temporomandibular joint dysfunction.
Are you looking for the solution to TMJ pain? It may be closer than you think. Keep reading for our guide to treating TMJ disorder.
TMJ Disorder: What Causes It?
The aching pain around your jaw or ear may be the result of one of several causes. Some of the most common culprits include:
- Bruxism (grinding your teeth)
- Trauma or injury
Your TMJ issues may be the result of one or a combination of the above factors.
In some cases, the exact cause eludes the dentist. Your symptoms may start for no reason that makes itself evident to anyone.
However, dentists can still identify TMJ as the issue because they can see when:
- The joint disk is out of alignment
- The joint cartilage is injured or damaged
- The join suffered a blow or impact injury
In the best case scenario, the damage is visible on a scan or through a physical examination. If so, a dentist assigns a treatment that offers the most relief for the cause.
If they can’t see the damage, then they offer non-invasive options to relieve the pain and tackle the underlying causes.
Keep in mind that National Institue of Dental and Craniofacial Research recommends starting and sticking to the mantra “less is often best.” Simple treatments provide relief, and because TMJ problems are temporary for most people, aggressive treatment isn’t the correct move – at least not right away.
Home Treatments for TMJ
If you think TMJ is the cause of your pain, you don’t need to visit the dentist to begin relieving the pain.
Some preliminary treatments include using hot or cold packs to the affected area to relieve pain and inflammation.
You’ll also find that over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen relieve muscle pain that comes with temporomandibular joint dysfunction.
Sticking to soft foods during flare-ups will also provide comfort. Cutting your soft food into small pieces to avoid excessive chewing will also help you alone. Be sure to avoid any food that requires lots of chewing or anything that requires you to open wide.
Other helpful treatments include using relaxation techniques to help your whole body – and your jaw – relax. You should also avoid resting your chin on your hand and leave your teeth apart as often as you can.
If your dentist approves, you might try some prescribed stretching exercises or book a physical therapy appointment. These therapies relieve tightness that won’t budge with other home remedies.
Do you TMJ symptoms come up over and over again? Make an appointment to talk with your dentist about targeted treatment options.
Are your jaw issues more than a once-off point of pain? Talk to your dentist. If home TMJ treatment doesn’t make a difference, then your dentists will take further action.
In some cases, your dentist might provide a prescription for a medication like higher doses of NSAIDs. These medications tackle the pain when over-the-counter medicines don’t provide relief.
You might also talk about anti-anxiety medication. These medications help relieve stress, which might cause you to grind your teeth, clench your jaw, or cause tension to manifest physically.
Your dentist might also recommend stress management counseling as an option for controlling your physical symptoms.
Correcting Your Bite
Some people find their jaw issues correlate to issues with their bite.
If you have missing or out of place teeth, it may cause your jaw to move in a way that feels unnatural and causes inflammation and pain.
If your bite is the underlying cause, your dentist will likely recommend home treatments to ease the pain. However, they may also recommend cosmetic dental work like braces or bridges to bring your jaw back into alignment.
TMJ flares up as a result of grinding or clenching, but many of us do that in our sleep. A night guard protects your teeth while you’re asleep.
If you grind your teeth all day, you may also receive a splint to wear during the day.
When Is Surgery Necessary?
Your dentist will try out all potentially helpful non-surgical interventions before recommending surgery.
If nothing works and you need prescription medication to keep the pain at bay, then you may be a candidate for surgery.
However, whether surgery is an option depends on the underlying problem. In most cases, oral surgery removes damaged tissue, move a stuck disc, or unstick the joint.
There are three types of surgery:
- Open-joint surgery
Arthroscopy is an exploratory surgery use to inspect the joint and then treat the issue found.
Open-joint surgery is an invasive surgery used if arthroscopy is not possible. Only those who have severely damaged or worn down joints are good candidates for this surgery.
Arthrocentesis is a minor procedure that unlocks your jaw when you have no significant history of TMJ. The dentist uses general anesthesia and then uses a needle to unlock and wash the joint, which should cause it to unstick.
Less is Best with TMJ Treatment
If your TMJ comes and goes and causes pain, there’s no need to suffer through it. Dentists have a long list of tools at their disposal to help you manage pain and prevent flare-ups.
Are you one of those people who has tried every non-surgical method in the book and still lives with daily pain? There’s a TMJ treatment for you, too.
Whatever your symptoms, we’re here to help. Click here to request an appointment and get to the bottom of your jaw or mouth pain today.