The terms temporomandibular joint or temporomandibular disorders can be very imposing. Even when they are abbreviated and called TMJ or TMD, they can still scare the person that hears about them. Part of the problem is that they do not know what these terms mean and what they refer to. Even if they have heard of these terms, they may not be aware of how to treat the conditions.
TMJ/TMD are associated with problems of the jaw, the joints of the jaw and the surrounding facial tissues. These affect the chewing and movement of the jaw. They can cause many different problems for a person.
Symptoms of TMJ/TMD include:
- Pain or tenderness in the jaw
- Inability to fully open the mouth
- The jaw can become locked in a position
- Clicking or popping sounds when moving the jaw
- Difficulty chewing
- Shoulder pain
Causes of TMJ/TMD include:
- Grinding or clenching of the teeth
- Dislocation of the soft tissue
- Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid arthritis being present in the TMJ
No matter what the causes or what the symptoms of Teporomandibular Joint (TMJ) or Temporomandibular Distorders (TMD) are, it is not something that should be ignored. Treatment of TMJ/TMD is possible and can resolve the problems that an individual is having.
The options for treatment include things that an individual can do themselves all the way to surgical procedure to correct the problem.
Treatment options that a person can choose to do themselves include:
- Applying Moist Heat & Cold Packs – This can provide temporary relief for the pain.
- Eating Soft Foods – This will reduce the amount of work the jaw muscles have to do.
- Avoiding Clenching of The Jaw – This will keep the jaw muscles more relaxed.
- Reducing Stress in General – Relaxation techniques can help eliminate the stress behind the condition.
A person can also see a dental professional for treatments that are still considered conservative, but offer more relief than the things a person can do themselves.
Professional TMJ treatments include:
- Medication – Medicine can be used for pain relief or medications can be used to reduce anxiety or to deal with stress. Antidepressants and muscle relaxants may also be prescribed by a doctor.
- Mouth Guards – Mouth guards can be worn during the day and the night to help keep the jaw properly aligned.
- Corrective Dental Procedures – Procedures, such as dental bridges, crowns and braces, can help a person restore their bite and jaw to its natural shape and position.
- Low Level Laser – This therapy can help reduce the amount of pain a person feels, as it can reduce swelling and it can increase the range of motion a person has in their jaw and surrounding areas.
Extensive TMJ treatments include:
- Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation – Small electric currents are delivered to the jaw to help relax the muscles.
- Ultrasound – A less invasive procedure that can reduce swelling and allow for more movement.
- Trigger Point injections – Injections of medicines, including pain medications or an anesthesia, will help reduce pain and restore movement.
- Surgery – Surgery is usually the last option to consider. A person can have arthroscopic surgery, arthrocentisis or open joint surgery. The surgery can be used to correct the defects that are causing the problem.
A dental health professional can help a person determine the best course of treatment for TMJ/TMD.