Treatment options for TMJ

Treatment options for TMJ – Laurel, MD Dentist, Aaron Nicholas’ Weighs in

The temporomandibular joints or TMJ refer to the joints and muscles that are responsible for opening and closing the mouth as well as moving the lower jaw. The TMJ are located on either side of the head and aid in speaking, swallowing and chewing.

Located on each joint is a disc placed between a ball and socket. The main function of these discs is to allow the jaw to open wide and rotate.

TMJ disorders like arthritis, bruxism or grinding of the teeth, dislocation, injury, tooth and jaw alignment issues, and stress can prevent the TMJ from functioning properly, and in some instances, causes pain.

Dr. Nicholas says that a correct diagnosis is an important part of any TMJ therapy. Your local dentist should check the joints and muscles. They will also look for signs like clicking, popping, difficulty in moving and tenderness. Based on the diagnosis, your dentist may prescribe TMJ treatment. In some cases they may need to also refer you to a doctor.

In order to find relief from the pain and discomfort associated with these disorders, there are a few things that you can do in addition to your dental visit.

Heat it up for relief

Applying heat on the affected area using a hot water bottle, moist towel or a heat pack can reduce pain and improve the function of the TMJ. An ice pack, on the other hand, can facilitate healing while decreasing inflammation and numbing pain.

An apple a day…not quite

Dr. Nicholas recommends that you implement a soft diet. Avoid hard, crunchy and chewy food. You may also have to avoid foods that require you to stretch your jaw. Chewing gum is another big no-no.

Medication and Rehab

You may also be prescribed anti-inflammatory medications, and muscle relaxers which can help with the pain and other symptoms.However, if the pain doesn’t quite require a prescription, physical therapy is another solution. To facilitate faster healing and improve jaw mobility, you may be asked to perform jaw exercises as well as techniques that can help relax the facial muscles.

While you are recovering, you have to support your chin while yawning. This can help prevent further damage to the TMJ, or worse, the locking of the jaw. You will also need to avoid cradling the phone between your ears and shoulders as this habit can irritate the muscles of the neck and jaw.

If the main cause of your TMJ disorder is bruxism, you may be asked to wear a bite plate or night guard which can minimize clenching and grinding of teeth. On the other hand, a Laurel, MD dentist may need to reshape or adjust your teeth if your TMJ disorder is caused by an uneven bite.

While treatment options for TMJ may vary, one thing is clear. Jaw pain is not something to ignore. Schedule an appointment with your Dentist to discuss the best course of action.


What You Should Know About TMJ Pain Relief

TMJ Pain ReliefWhat You Should Know About TMJ Pain Relief

The condition is called temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder, but the pain and problems it brings can go beyond the specific joint it is named for.

Many TMJ patients can suffer from a wide range of symptoms including headaches, migraines, earaches and ringing in the ears. Others complain of feeling heavy pressure behind the eyes or their jaw clicking, feeling tender or suddenly getting “locked.” Some can feel pain brought about by ordinary movements such as chewing, opening their mouth or yawning. Many had to go through terrible pain in the head and neck, especially on the back and sides. The alignment of teeth can also feel different or uncomfortable.   

Some home remedies can bring about TMJ pain relief:

  • Eat only soft foods so as not to stretch your mouth or pressure your jaw too much.
  • Be careful about how you move your mouth and jaws.
  • Apply moist heat over the painful area. You may use a hot water bottle or heat pack wrapped in a moist towel to induce moist heat.  
  • An alternative is to apply an ice pack as a way to numb the pain and reduce the inflammation.
  • Deep and slow breathing, meditation, yoga, massage and other ways to aid relaxation are also used as a technique to ease TMJ pain.
  • Look for the right sleeping position that eases the pressure on your shoulders and neck, such as sleeping on your side and using supportive pillows.

The best way to address TMJ pain is to seek the help of a reputable dentist experienced in TMJ therapy. Some solutions may include the following:  

  • Take pain medications as instructed by your doctor. Some doctors may also prescribe more natural methods for severe pain such as trigger point acupuncture and marijuana (where legal).
  • Look into therapeutic options advised by your dentist, such as transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), ultrasound therapy, trigger-point injections and radio wave therapy.
  • Surgery may also be considered, provided that the risks and commitments that come with it are fully understood.

When seeking TMJ treatment, make sure to seek the help of a dentist with solid training, skills and qualifications in managing jaw pain. Many common types of dental treatment such as bridges and crowns can impact and may even trigger further jaw complications, so it’s likewise important to discuss your TMJ problems with your dentist before getting any work done. Talk only to a Burtonsville dentist to ensure the solutions implemented will be safe, effective and can finally free you from TMJ pain.