What is TMJ Treatment?
Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Treatment occurs when there are problems with the jaw and face muscles that control it. These problems are known as Temporomandibular Disorder (TMD).
The TMJ is the hinge that connects the jaw to the temporal bones of the skull. This joint allows a person to move the jaw up and down as well as side to side in order to take, chew and yawn.
While dentists do not actually know the cause of TMD they think it can be caused by
- an injury to the jaw, joint or muscles in the head and neck
- Grinding or clenching teeth
- Movement of the soft cushion or disc between the joint’s ball and socket
Symptoms of TMD can either be temporary or last several years. Both or just one side of the face may be affected. Women between the ages of 20 and 40 are most likely to have it. Some of the symptoms of TMD are:
- Pain or tenderness in the face, jaw joint, neck and shoulders. Possibly even in or around the ear when chewing, speaking or opening the mouth widely.
- “Stuck” or “locked” jaws in the open or closed mouth position
- Clicking, popping or grating sounds in the jaw joint when chewing, opening or closing the mouth
- Tired feeling in the face
- Trouble chewing
- Face swelling
- Neck aches
- Hearing problems
- Upper shoulder pain
If you have any questions call Dr. Heather Darcey at Space Age Smiles 281-317-6881
In order to figure out if those symptoms are TMD or simply tooth decay, sinus issues, arthritis or gum disease, the dentist will perform certain tests. The dentist will check the patient’s jaw joints for pain or tenderness and listen for clicks, pops or grating sounds when the jaw is moved. The dentist will also ask the patient to open and close his/her mouth to make sure it does not lock. A bite test and the patient’s facial muscles will also be checked for issues.
A full face x-ray may also be necessary in order to look at the jaws, temporomandibular joints, and teeth. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) or Computer Tomography (CT) may also be needed. If issues do become apparent, an oral surgeon and/or orthodontist may be referred to the patient.
Luckily there are treatments for TMD.
Doctors suggest to patients home treatments like over-the-counter medications such as naproxen or ibuprofen to reduce swelling and muscle pain. Moist heat and cold packs also help. Doctors say soft foods like yogurt, mashed potatoes, cottage cheese, soup, scrambled eggs, fish, cooked fruits and vegetables, beans and grains should not hurt while eating. Extreme jaw movements should be avoided. Keeping teeth slightly apart as often as possible will relieve pressure on the jaw. Relaxation techniques should also be used to loosen up the jaw. If these home remedies don’t work though, there are other treatment options.
Higher doses of certain medications like NSAIDs, muscle relaxers, anti-anxiety medications may all help. Splints or night guards may also be recommended to lessen the effects of clenching or grinding as well as correct the bite. A more intrusive treatment may be necessary though like crowns, bridges or braces if none of the other treatments work. Surgery may even be an option as a last resort.
If you are having issues with your jaw and think it may be TMD contact Dr. Heather Darcey and her excellent team of dental professionals. Call Space Age Smiles at 281-317-6881 or schedule an appointment online today!