What Exactly is TMJ and What Can I Do About It?

Posted by: Spectrum Dental, on August 29, 2013

TMJ is a disorder of the temporomandibular joint (the hinge of your jaw) causing pain in your jaw and in the muscles that control its’ movement.  The disorder can serve to cause patients several other difficulties, such as:

TMJ Treatment

  • Headaches
  • Pain in their temples
  • Achiness in the neck
  • Painful clicking or grating when opening their jaw
  • Discomfort while chewing
  • Difficulty opening or closing the mouth

Regardless of your potential symptoms, it’s important to be properly diagnosed and work towards a treatment plan that’s customized for you.  Here’s a brief overview of the five most common treatment options we offer our patients who suffer from TMJ disorders:

Treatment Option: Oral Splint

Customized bite guards can be crafted to your exact mouth shape and be fitted over your teeth for overnight use.  These types of splints offer either stabilization or repositioning.  Stabilization aids muscle relaxation and prevents teeth clenching.  Repositioning helps to realign the jaw and correct a patients bite.

Treatment Option: Physical Therapy

Specific exercises can be assigned which will target, stretch, and strengthen your jaw muscles.   In addition to adding strength, you can also improve your muscle flexibility.

Treatment Option: Assorted Procedures

Certain procedures, less invasive than surgery, can also be pursued.  One example is arthrocentesis, the irrigation of the jaw joint to clear away debris, etc.  Another option to consider is receiving corticosteroid injections in the joint of the jaw, though this is a temporary fix and should not be administered more than three times a year.

Treatment Option: Medications

Various medications can also be a viable option.  If over-the-counter pain medications don’t quite cut it, prescription medications can be assigned.  Muscle relaxers or sedatives for nighttime teeth clenching are sometimes suggested.

Treatment Option: Surgery

If all conservative treatments have failed, a consultation for surgery may be arranged.  However, this is typically a last resort after all other options have been exhausted.    Surgery typically involves the repair or replacement of the affected joint(s).

Leaving a TMJ condition untreated could adversely affect your health and comfort.  Not only can it prolong your symptomatic pain, but a lack of treatment can also increase your chances of permanent damage to the joint.  Remember that no single treatment plan is a cure-all for every patient.  Each case is unique and your symptoms should be assessed during your personal exam.  If you’re suffering from symptoms that may be linked to TMJ, please contact us to schedule an exam at your earliest convenience.

Categories: All Posts, TMJ Treatment