Today, we’re answering your questions about TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorders.
If you or someone you know suffers from TMJ, you know how stressful and uncomfortable it can be to cope with the disorder. Fortunately, there are plenty of effective options available to help you return to life as normal. So, whether you’re wondering how TMJ is treated, where to seek care, or how to relieve the pain, we’re here to answer all of your questions.
How Is TMJ Diagnosed?
If you suspect you may be suffering from TMJ, a proper diagnosis is the first step on the road to recovery. Digital X-rays and 3-D CBCT Scans, are some of the most precise and accurate diagnostic tools for TMJ. Once a TMJ diagnosis is confirmed, your dentist can work with you to develop a course of treatment.
How Is TMJ Disorder Treated?
According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, temporomandibular joint and muscle disorders (TMJ for short) affect more than 10 million Americans. Treatment options vary based on the severity of the condition, and patients can seek treatment from their dentist or physician.
Here are some of the most common treatments for TMJ:
- Therapies: Stretching, facial physical therapy, and even acupuncture are all viable forms of treatment for TMJ.
- Devices: Splints and mouthguards can be applied to fix facial alignment and prevent teeth grinding, which are both commonly seen in TMJ patients.
- Self-Care: Stress is often the main culprit and trigger for TMJ. Meditation, massage, yoga, or chiropractic care can all be beneficial.
- Medication: Anti-inflammatories and muscle relaxers can also be used
We may recommend a combination of all of the above. The bottom line? If you’ve ever asked yourself, “Should TMJ be treated?” the answer is yes.
Peace Haven Family Dentistry’s experienced team of dentists can help! Your smile is our first priority,and we’ll give you something to smile about.
What Will Relieve TMJ Pain?
Over-the-counter, anti-inflammatory drugs and pain relievers are often adequate to mitigate pain caused by TMJ. In some cases, your doctor or dentist may prescribe muscle relaxers.
- Aside from medications, devices, and therapies, what are other recommended courses of action? Hot or cold compresses: Applying an ice pack or warm cloth to the affected area will help loosen the muscles, provide relief, and reduce inflammation.
- Dietary changes: In general, it’s best to avoid chewy or sticky foods like gum if you suffer from TMJ. Preventing overuse of the jaw can speed the healing process.
In some cases, surgery is also an option.
Can Severe TMJ Be Cured?
If TMJ does not respond to therapies, stress-management programs, splints, and guards, your dentist may recommend a surgical procedure. For the most severe cases of TMJ, surgery is often the best long-term solution. And when paired with other forms of treatment, most patients find significant, lasting relief.
What Causes TMJ? Is There a Way to Prevent It?
What causes TMJ in the first place? The answer varies from patient to patient, but according to Medicinenet, here are the top contributing factors:
- Injury to the teeth or jaw
- Misalignment of the teeth or jaw
- Teeth grinding or clenching
- Poor posture
- Gum chewing
For many, TMJ is entirely avoidable. Aside from regular preventative dental care and exams, here are few steps you can take to reduce your chances of developing TMJ:
- Maintain proper posture
- Avoid chewing gum
- Practice stress-management techniques regularly
- Wear custom nightguards while sleeping
If you suspect you may be grinding your teeth in your sleep, let your dentist know. Custom splints and guards can often prevent adverse effects and mitigate TMJ flareups.