TMJ Treatment Options

Luckily, there are numerous TMJ treatment options that correct the TMJ disorder including TMJ pain management. What your treatment will include is determined through working with a TMJ specialist and a dental professional who is highly trained and experienced in TMJ problems. Your dentist should have the capability to evaluate jaw-to-bite associations as well as have experience with treatment that consists of measures such as using intra-oral appliances and occlusal equilibration. In certain cases, the symptoms of TMJ disorders might go away without any treatment.

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If the symptoms continue, your primary care physician might prescribe medications or a mouth guard for the bite in order to keep you from grinding your teeth at night. If the TMD symptoms are caused by an improper bite, most corrections may be achieved with restorations, orthodontics, appliance therapy, or equilibration. Identifying and correcting abnormal jaw movements and habits, subconscious or otherwise, can help in the treatment of TMJ. Here are the TMJ treatment options that are available today for people seeking treatment for the TMJ disorder.

Medications

MedicationsPainkillers:  There are a variety of medications that can be prescribed to relieve pain. These are usually pain killers. When over-the-counter pain medicines are not relieving TMJ and ear pain, your physician or dentist might prescribe painkillers that are stronger. Treating the pain of this disorder can be tricky. Some sufferers do find relief in traditional over the counter pain relievers such as Tylenol or Advil, but more often these things do not provide sufficient relief. The pain of TMJ is most often neurological, meaning it occurs in the nerves and is affected by the nervous system. This type of pain does not respond well to typical over the counter pain remedies. It is important to note that solving TMJ conditions through TMJ treatment is more effective than pain management. Pain killers can also be quite addictive and therefore not recommended for long term use.

Muscle RelaxantsThese kinds of medications are often used for a couple of days or weeks in order to aid the relief of pain caused by TMJ disorders.

Tricyclic Antidepressants: Tricyclic antidepressants can be useful in treating the pain, because their chemistry functions in a way that blocks the neurotransmission receptors – the source where pain is felt. Less commonly, clonazepam can be prescribed for treatment. Clonazepam, also known under the brand name Klonopin, can act as a muscle relaxant and can also help prevent the clenching and grinding of the teeth while sleeping. Stopping this habit can help relieve TMJ symptoms. Antidepressants like nortriptyline or amitriptyline when taken prior to sleep at night can help to relieve TMJ pain in certain individuals.

Corticosteroid Medication: When the pain and inflammation of the joint are significant, corticosteroid medications are injected into the joint space and may offer relief.

Botulinum toxin: TMJ Botox injections (Botulinum toxin) may be injected into the jaw muscles used during chewing, often relieving the pain linked to TMJ dysfunctions or disorders.

Therapies

Mouth GuardMouth Guards For Your Bite: A mouth guard, also known as a night guard, may also be used to reduce clenching and grinding of the teeth. In some patients however, a mouth guard will increase the frequency and intensity of the clenching, rather than prevent it. Cases that are the most severe might need treatment with mouth guards, splints or other forms of therapy for TMD. If you grind the teeth while sleeping, you might benefit from using a firm or soft device place over the teeth. This mouth guard stops the teeth from touching each other and grinding together. Mouth guards, however, will often aggravate any symptoms of sleep apnea.

Cognitive Behavior Treatment:  If the symptoms of the TMJ disorder are made worse through poor stress management or anxiety, your physician or dentist might refer you to a psychotherapist who has experience in cognitive behavioral therapy. This type of TMJ treatment includes interventions to aid you in becoming more aware of your behavior, help you change it, and teach you techniques for relaxation to better manage stress.

Biofeedback: There are also biofeedback devices available which can be worn at night that can help identify and correct these abnormalities.

Surgical and Other TMJ Treatments

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Corrective Dental Treatment: The dentist may be able to help make your bite better by rebalancing the surface of your teeth, restoring any teeth that are missing, or replacing any needed crowns or fillings.

Arthrocentesis: This is a procedure involving the insertion of a needle into the joint so that fluid can be irrigated through the joint to remove any debris and inflammatory by-products.

Botox: Botox can also be used to treat TMJ. It helps reduce pain and tenderness and can also improve mouth functions such as opening the mouth. Botox is injected into the deep muscle located in the jaw. It goes into the muscles used to move the jaw also known as masseter muscles and temporalis. These injections help relax jaw muscles and obstruct nerve signals, which are responsible for uncontrollable muscle movements. It is a simple procedure that only takes up a few minutes and is repeated after a few months.

Surgery: As an absolute last resort, your dentist or physician might suggest surgery to repair or replace the joint. This is only done in more serious cases and can include repositioning of the jaw or replacing the joints and discs with implants. Surgery is a serious procedure however, so other options should be fully explored first.But the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research believes TMJ surgery to be controversial and recommends that it be avoided whenever possible.

Even though surgical treatment is widely discouraged for treating TMJ syndrome, it still remains a method of treatment for this disorder. It is an irreversible treatment method that can help in easing the tightness of the jaw by permanent placement of a stabilizing device. Such surgical procedures are considered highly risky and can end up deforming the shape of the jaw altogether. An exam of all the joints and occlusion is a necessary that should be taken prior to a precise treatment being selected. There is only a very small percentage of TMD cases that will need any surgical intercession.

Home Remedies

Home TreatmentsYour dentist and doctor might show you some TMJ disorder exercises that you can do which expand your jaw muscles and also show you how to massage these muscles yourself. They may also show you exercises that can help you develop a better neck, head and shoulder posture. Applying moist warm heat or ice to the side of the face are good home remedies that offer pain relief and help with muscle relaxation.

No matter what TMJ treatment the dentist suggests for you, it is vital that TMJ patients follow the dentist’s directions. You will need to keep up with all routine dental visits so that the symptoms can be monitored regularly. Additionally, the TMJ Association advises all patients to bear in mind that there is at this time no studies to suggest that disorders caused by TMJ can be prevented.  Therefore, it is advised that you exercise caution regarding any TMJ treatments that claim to prevent TMJ. In very rare cases surgery might be needed to replace or repair the joint.

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