How is TMJ/TMD Treated?
When we chew, yawn, or talk, we use a hinge of the joint known as the Temporomandibular Joint located on the side of the face. Problems with this joint and the muscles are referred to as Temporomandibular Joint Disorder.
Although they are used interchangeably, TMJ and TMD are two different terms. TMJ is the specific joint, while TMD is the complex of disorders affecting the joint.
There is no specific cause of TMD. However, dentists believe a variety of factors can contribute, such as arthritis, stress, teeth grinding, dislocation, jaw misalignment.
TMD causes jaw pain, tenderness on the neck, swelling on the side of the face, toothaches, headaches, and problems when opening your mouth.
Most of these symptoms improve over time with home remedies and other treatment options. However, when the symptoms persist, the dentist may offer one or a combination of these treatments.
Several medications like the anti-inflammatories which help relieve pain and inflammation. Muscle relaxants also help with relaxing your jaw. These medications are ideal if you grind and clench your teeth often.
Sometimes, the dentist may also recommend antidepressants to reduce stress, which aggravates the TMD symptoms.
With TMD, you need a soft diet to reduce pressure and discomfort in your joints. Foods like mashed potatoes, scrambled eggs, soups, smoothies, and fish are perfect. Also, stay away from crunchy foods and any other types that will add pressure to your joints.
Eat a soft diet for about two to three weeks until the jaw heels. However, at times it may take longer to get to your regular diet depending on the cause and symptoms.
Non-drug therapies, such as oral splints and mouthguards, can help reduce joint pressure. Oral splints are inserted over the teeth to keep the jaw open. The splints are beneficial, but you shouldn’t wear them for an extended period to avoid damaging your jaw.
Exercise and stretches also strengthen the jaw muscles. Other therapies include moist heat and ice therapy. The heat helps to relax your tight muscles and ice eases pain. Use moist heat and ice at least four times a day.
4. Alternative Medication
Complementary and alternative medications are used for chronic TMD. Acupuncture involves the use of hair-thin needles on the TMJ.
Acupuncture helps to relax the muscles, reduce spasms, and minimize jaw clicking.
Biofeedback is a therapy proven to be beneficial for TMJ. It is ideal for patients who don’t have arthritis. Biofeedback uses electrical devices to alert you on excessive and inappropriate activity. It is used alongside other relaxation therapies.
Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (T.E.N.S) is a non-invasive, safe, and drug-free pain management therapy. The TENS devices deliver low-level electrical currents to relax the muscles and joints.
Ultrasound involves the use of deep heat on the joints to relieve soreness to improve stability. The dentist may also recommend trigger-point injection, which eases the pain.
If these treatments don’t alleviate the problem, the dentist may recommend surgery. Surgical procedures are irreversible; that’s why they are used as a last resort. It is also essential to always get a second or third dental opinion.
The dentist may recommend different procedures such as Arthrocentesis, which is a minor procedure done by inserting needles in the joint to relieve the locked jaw.
Arthroscopy is used to examine the inside of the joint and removing any inflamed tissue. Furthermore, it helps to realign the discs or joints. Although it is minimally invasive, the surgery leaves a small scar.
Open-joint surgery is done to open the joint and remove any affected tissues. The procedure is ideal if you have a tumor, scarred joints, and worn down bony structures. Open-joint surgery is invasive and will leave a large scar.
How to Maintain Proper Hygiene with TMJ
Maintaining proper oral hygiene is challenging and painful. But, it is crucial to brush and floss daily to avoid dental decay.
Try using an electrical brush over the traditional one because they have less aggressive motions and don’t cause discomfort. Also, apply moist heat and ice after brushing to ease the pain.
Most importantly visit the Creative Dentistry of Covington for your routine dental exam and cleaning.