Do you experience pain and clicking in your jaw, neck pain, and debilitating headaches? The tiny temporomandibular joint (TMJ) that is responsible for the opening and closing of the mouth could be the root of all your problems.
The TMJ isn’t given enough credit, it is the most frequently used and the most complex joint in the body. A functioning TMJ gives us smooth jaw movements with no thought or associated pain, but sometimes, it can all go wrong. Left untreated, TMJ symptoms can progress to chronic TMJ disorders but still, only 25% of people seek treatment for their symptoms.
Don’t let TMJ disorder affect your life, there is a range of TMJ treatment options that can help you live a pain-free life.
Read on to learn how to treat the symptoms of TMJ.
1) Lifestyle Modification
75% of Americans experience symptoms of TMJ at some point in their lives and often their symptoms resolve without treatment. But, there are many home TMJ remedies you can try to improve your symptoms.
- Use over the counter medicines
- Do jaw exercises (these can be recommended by a dentist)
- Practice mindfulness to reduce stress and practice relaxation
- Eat a soft food diet
- Avoid wide yawning
- Avoid chewing gum
- Use heat pads and ice packs
- Try massage to the jaw muscles
TMJ can be caused by a variety of things, the most common one being stress and lifestyle factors. So, one of the best first-line treatments is lifestyle modification. However, you don’t need to go through that alone, regular visits to a dentist that can help treat TMJ symptoms are helpful in the early detection and treatment of TMJ disorders.
2) Bite Correction
When home remedies are not effective, dentists start to advise different TMJ treatment options. Customized dental splints have been found to prevent tooth grinding, keep the teeth aligned, and reduce overall clenching.
Bite guards are the most widely recommended treatment for moderate TMJ symptoms. Research has found that splints can reduce TMJ pain and the risk of long-term side effects is minimal. There are two main types of dental splint, a TMJ mouthguard, and a bruxism (tooth grinding) mouthguard.
A TMJ mouthguard is a hard piece of plastic that helps to reposition and stabilize the jaw, it should take the pressure off the jaw and reduce symptoms of TMJ. Depending on the severity of your teeth grinding, a bruxism mouthguard can be made of either hard plastic, or soft and pliable material to provide cushioning and reduce any pain associated with clenching.
You can buy generic bite guards online, but it is important to protect your natural bite and these online options are vastly unregulated. For the best results, refrain from diagnosing and treating yourself, instead visit a dentist. The dental treatment team at Brushin’ on Belmont are experts at fitting dental splints to treat TMJ.
Injections into the jaw can be effective at providing temporary relief from symptoms of TMJ. It is minimally invasive, taking less than 30 minutes, and has no recovery time.
Corticosteroid injections help to reduce any inflammation and pain in the TMJ and reduces chronic jaw pain. Botox is also used for the treatment of TMJ symptoms. Botox is a neurotoxin that paralyzes the muscles in the jaw, preventing clenching and alleviating symptoms. Side effects from Botox are minimal but it can cause a temporary ‘fixed smile‘ due to the paralyzing effect of the toxin.
4) Arthroscopy and Arthrocentesis
Only when the above treatments have been unsuccessful, will more major TMJ treatment options be recommended. Arthroscopy and arthrocentesis are minimally invasive procedures but the recovery time still averages about a week.
Arthroscopy procedures are done by an orthopedic surgeon to assist with the diagnosis of TMJ disorders. The process involves inserting a small fiber-optic camera into the joint. This way the surgeon can investigate what exactly in the joint is causing the symptoms.
Arthrocentesis procedures are similar, but they are used for both diagnosis and treatment. In this procedure, a small needle and syringe are used to drain fluid out of the joint. By draining the fluid from the joint it can help a physician to work out the cause of joint swelling.
Surgery for TMJ is extreme and considered a last resort. Parts of TMJ can be repaired, repositioned, and in some cases, removed and replaced. Jaw surgeries are done under general anesthetic and have a longer recovery time.
There are significant risks associated with jaw surgery, such as loss of jaw movement, scarring, and your body rejecting the artificial joints. It’s important to try safer, cheaper, and non-invasive options first. If a doctor does recommend surgery, make sure to always get a second opinion, Dr. Bob and Dr. Monika, family dentists, provide regular consultations about the most effective, non-invasive treatments for TMJ disorders.
Contact Us About TMJ Treatment Options Today For a Pain-Free Life!
The symptoms of TMJ often resolve without treatment but you should always consult a dentist that has knowledge of TMJ. They can provide you with the best advice to be free from your symptoms in the quickest, safest, cheapest, and most effective way.
Although surgery, injections, and procedures can work in extreme cases, more conservative methods such as bite guards and bite reshaping can be an easy and simple way to get relief from your chronic pain symptoms.
Contact the Doctors at Brushin’ on Belmont today to discuss your TMJ treatment options!