Many people experience TMJ disorders, issues with the Temporomandibular Joint that connects the lower jaw to the sides of the skull. While there are varying TMJ causes, most center around muscular tension or problems with the bones in the jaw not fitting together properly. TMJ disorders range from slight nuisances that can create general discomfort, or they can be life-altering and debilitating, even affecting a person’s ability to eat or talk. So what do you do if you’re experiencing a TMJ disorder? What are the TMJ treatments available?
The main TMJ causes are strictly muscular. The strong, powerful muscles in this joint can easily lock up, tighten and restrict movement. The most common TMJ treatments involve helping these muscles to relax so that the joint can once again move smoothly and freely. For simple muscular tension issues, your dentist may recommend Physical Therapy consisting of range of motion exercises, relaxation techniques and strengthening exercises that ensure the muscles in this area of the jaw are working properly. Your dentist may also suggest Massage Therapy of the TMJ area, neck, shoulders and face to further relax these muscles, or Acupuncture, Yoga and Stress Management sessions to reduce overall tension that can lead to a more relaxed state.
When TMJ disorders are caused by muscle tension that builds up when teeth are misaligned, your dentist might recommend a bite splint to remedy the problem. A bite splint is a plastic mouth guard typically worn at night that helps teeth slide past one each other more easily and also reduces clenching or grinding of teeth when awake or asleep. Bite splints are a very effective TMJ treatment and help many people feel relief from this common disorder. But when exercises, relaxation techniques, or bite splints aren’t enough, anti-inflammatory drugs may be prescribed to reduce swelling and allow the bones and muscles in the jaw to pass by each other more smoothly.
For more severe cases of TMJ disorders that stem from issues with the bones in the joint itself, surgery may be a viable treatment option, however surgeries are often complicated and painful, and should only be considered as a final treatment option after all other options have been exhausted. Also be sure to get a second or even third recommendation for TMJ surgery to make sure it is the best option for managing your pain.
Treating TMJ starts with talking to a TMJ specialist. If you have symptoms of a TMJ disorder and are looking for TMJ help, make an appointment today. Most treatments are non-surgical and can alleviate pain and discomfort without much risk, and will help to improve your ability to eat, talk and open your mouth. Don’t wait, contact your TMJ specialist today.