TMJ, or temporomandibular joint, refers to the joint located in front of the ears on both sides of the head. These joints and the surrounding ligaments and muscles connect the mandible, or lower jawbone, to the temporal bone of the skull. There are discs located between each joint that cushion the bones of the joints to enable smooth, painless movement. The TMJs are responsible for jaw movements that facilitate eating, speaking, and producing facial expressions.
TMJ Dysfunction – What Is It?
There will be instances when a person’s TMJs will become disconnected or improperly seated. When this happens, the nearby muscles work overtime to hold the jaw in proper position. Unfortunately, these muscles eventually become fatigued and swollen and put stress on local nerves. This condition is known as TMJ dysfunction or disorder (TMJD or TMD).
According to a trusted Laurel MD dentist, TMJ disorder causes intense pain and discomfort of various parts of the body, including the jaw, mouth, face, ears, neck, shoulders, and back. Some patients even experience tingling toes and fingers. Other symptoms of this disorder include toothaches, sinus problems, headaches and migraines, pain when chewing or yawning or when opening or closing the jaw, facial tension, clicking, and locked jaw.
TMJ disorder can be caused by one or more factors. The most common causes are:
- Trauma to the jaw joint
- Ear infections
- Improper placement or adjustment of dental fillings
- Grinding and/or clenching of the teeth
- Bad occlusion
- Osteo or rheumatoid arthritis and other types of autoimmune disorders
TMJ Pain Treatment Options
Dentists and other health practitioners offer various types of TMJ pain treatment.
Certain medications are needed to supplement nonsurgical treatments. These medicines can help relieve the pain associated with TMJ disorder. Pain relievers, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs, tricyclic antidepressants, and muscle relaxants can help relieve pain caused by TMJ disorders.
Recommended non-surgical, drug-free, and alternative therapies for TMJD include:
The use of oral splints or mouth guards or occlusal appliances
Many patients suffering from jaw pain can benefit from wearing a soft or firm device inserted over their teeth.
Your dentist or healthcare provider will use ultrasound, moist heat and ice to provide pain relief. You will also have to do exercises to stretch and strengthen your jaw muscles.
An acupuncture specialist will treat the chronic pain by inserting hair-thin needles in your jaw and other areas on your body.
Practicing the right breathing techniques can help you relax tense muscles which, in turn, can reduce pain.
If these methods won’t provide pain relief, you will be recommended to undergo surgery or other medical procedures. These include arthrocentesis, a minimally invasive procedure which involves the medical practitioner inserting small needles into the joint so that fluid can be irrigated through the joint to remove debris and inflammatory byproducts. Other options that may also be recommended are TMJ arthroscopy, modified condylotomy, and open-joint surgery.
To find out which TMJ pain treatment options are best for you, make sure you have a thorough discussion with your Burtonsville dentist. Don’t suffer with pain from TMJ, contact Nicholas Dental Care today and allow them to help you get rid of your dental pain.