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.