[Temporomandibular joint or temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ/TMD) is a general term referring to various conditions affecting the jaw. It is estimated that about 10 million Americans are affected by this disorder. There are several different causes including injury, genetics, arthritis, and jaw clenching in your sleep. The exact cause can sometimes be difficult to determine. These disorders can be painful and cause a variety of symptoms. Luckily, there are many treatment options available to you, including those you can do at home and those provided by our dental professionals at Summit Dental Group.
You may experience one or more symptoms of TMJ/TMD. As long as you retain mobility and do not have pain, you likely will not need to seek professional treatment. For instance, some people have a grating or clicking sound when they open their mouth. But, if this is your only symptom, you would not necessarily need treatment. However, other common symptoms of these disorders include jaw pain or tenderness, ear pain, facial pain, difficulty chewing, and joint locking. Persistent pain or tenderness, or the inability to fully open or close your jaw, would warrant professional treatment.
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There are three different types of treatment our dentists use for TMJ/TMD. The specific treatment depends on your symptoms and condition severity. Treatments include medication, therapies, and, in more severe cases, surgery.
Typically, medications used to treat TMJ/TMD are pain relievers, anti-inflammatories, and muscle relaxers. In some cases, your dentist may also prescribe antidepressants in very low doses to act as a pain reliever or sleep aid.
Physical therapies include mouthguards, education, and general physical therapy. Mouthguards can help to prevent teeth grinding at night, relieving tension in the jaw. They can also help to realign your jaw, which may also relieve some of the tension. Education, or counseling, involves one of our dental professionals explaining habits that may contribute to your condition. For example, teeth clenching or grinding, leaning with your chin on your hand, and biting your fingernails can lead to jaw tension. Physical therapy would involve specific stretches and exercises, as well as heating and icing as directed by our professionals.
Surgical intervention is used in more extreme cases. Some of these include arthrocentesis, injections, arthroscopy, modified condylotomy, and open-joint surgery. Arthrocentesis involves small needles being inserted into the joint so that a liquid can be injected to flush out any inflammatory by-products. Other injections include corticosteroids and botox. Arthroscopy is a diagnostic surgery which involves a guided camera. This lets our dental professionals see the extent of the condition and decide on the best treatment option. Modified condylotomy relieves pain and jaw locking by increasing joint space. Open-joint surgery is used to repair or replace the joint and is usually only used in the most severe cases.
Our dentists can also recommend certain at-home treatments to prevent the need for professional intervention. Some of these include eating soft foods, avoiding chewing gum, stretches, massage, and heating and icing. It is very important to follow these instructions in order to prevent the need for further treatment. To get more information on TMJ/TMD treatment, contact Summit Dental Group today. Our doctors partner with the specialists at TMJ & Sleep Therapy Centre of Fort Wayne to ensure you can make informed decisions about your treatment.