Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder is a problem that involves the TMJ and the surrounding muscles that control it. Your TMJ is the joint that connects your skull to the jaw and allows you to move your jaw in various directions, especially when chewing, talking, or yawning. TMJ disorder requires significant attention and care during diagnosis considering that its symptoms overlap with other disorders. We, at Beyond Dental and Implant Center, carry out a thorough assessment of the condition of our patients to ascertain if their problems are indeed caused by TMJ disorder or another illness. We fully understand that accurate diagnosis is critical for determining the appropriate treatment.
Most Common Treatments for TMJ Disorder
A TMJ disorder can be caused by a variety of factors such as injury or accident, habitual teeth clenching or grinding, arthritis in the joint, and stress, among others. Apart from ensuring an accurate diagnosis, another factor that is crucial in the treatment planning is the identification of the cause or at least the possible causes.
The most common treatments that we administer to patients suffering from TMJ disorder include pain medication, splint, and other dental procedures. Since pain is the number one symptom that makes patients seek our assistance, we provide medication to help relieve pain and swelling. Depending on the case of the TMJ disorder, we may prescribe an over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen to ease the pain and swelling, muscle relaxants to help loosen the jaw muscles of people who are habitual teeth clenchers, and even anti-anxiety medications or antidepressants in rare cases.
If we conclude that the disorder is caused by teeth grinding or clenching, we may ask our patients to use an occlusal splint, an orthodontic device that functions as a specially-fitted mouthguard for teeth grinders and clenchers. A splint makes it impossible for people to grind their teeth as the mouthguard prevents the upper and lower teeth from touching. This device also helps in relieving the pressure from the jaw joints so that the muscles can relax. We ask our patients to wear the splint either during the day or at night while sleeping depending on their condition. While the splint provides relief from grinding, it cannot be worn too long. Otherwise it could cause changes in the bite positioning. This is the reason we encourage our patients to visit us regularly so that we can monitor their progress.
If the TMJ disorder is caused by a bite problem, we carry out dental procedures that will correct the bite issue of the patient. Such procedures may include braces, crowns, or bridges.
Other Treatment Interventions for TMJ Disorder
If our patients are not improving as quickly as we like using the basic treatments, we may carry out other treatment interventions to help our patients more. One such intervention is transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), a therapeutic technique using low level electrical currents to help relax the jaw and facial muscles. Another treatment could be ultrasound, wherein heat is applied to a joint that is swollen or immobile. If all else fails and pain and functional problems remain, we may consider surgery to treat a TMJ disorder.
If you are experiencing pain in the jaw area and you are wondering about TMJ disorder, call us at Beyond Dental and Implant Center today so we can schedule a free consultation at (972) 591-7520.