How Is TMJ Treated?
Did you know that the mandible bone is the largest one in the face and the only one that moves? The bone forms the lower jaw, holds the teeth, and connects the jaw to the skull. On each side of the face, you have the Temporomandibular joint that enables you to chew, swallow, speak, and yawn. Any injury to the joint can make it hard to move the jaw.
Because of the TMJ’s complexity, pain and disorders are common, and they are usually referred to as the TMD or the Temporomandibular Joint Disorder. The cause of the TMJ disorder is not known, but the dentist and doctors believe certain factors can influence the pain.
Arthritis, misalignment of the jaw, and damage of the joint after a direct blow or impact are some of the TMD causes. Long term or chronic bruxism—grinding and clenching of the teeth can increase your risk of the disorder.
What are the Symptoms of TMJ?
Symptoms of TMJ disorder include:
- Pain and tenderness of the jaw
- Aching pain around the ear or face
- Pain in either of the TMJ joints
- If you have pain or difficulty when chewing or moving the jaw.
- Jaw locking
- Clicking or grating sensation when opening the mouth or chewing. Most often, the clicking sound comes with pain. If you have no pain despite the granting sound, you don’t need any treatment. But, you can consult our dentist on ways to reduce the clicking sound.
Sometimes, these symptoms clear without any treatment. However, if they persist or you have tenderness in your jaw, visit our dentist in Philadelphia, PA.
What are the Forms of TMJ Treatments Available?
When you come for your TMJ treatment in Philadelphia, the dentist will first examine your jaw. Dental x-rays, CT scans, or MRI may reveal the problem with the joint and the surrounding tissues.
Our dentist can recommend one or multiple of these treatments depending on the severity of the pain.
Usually, the dentist may recommend pain relievers and anti-inflammatory drugs to ease the joint’s pain and inflammation. If they aren’t enough to ease the pain, muscle relaxants may reduce the tension and spasms.
If stress is a contributing factor, the dentist in consultation with your doctor may prescribe antidepressants.
Some people may benefit from non-drug therapies such as:
- Oral splints and mouthguards. These plastic mouthpieces are worn over your upper and lower teeth to keep them from touching. The mouthguards’ primary goal is to reduce teeth grinding and clenching, which is believed to increase the risk of TMD.
- Physical therapy. TMJ exercises and stretches can help strengthen the jaw muscles and ease the tension.
At times the dentist/doctor may recommend counseling to help you understand the behaviors that may aggravate the TMJ pain. Some of the behaviors include; bruxism, nail-biting, and leaning on your chin.
3. Lifestyle and home remedies
Some of the remedies that can reduce jaw pain include:
- Avoid overusing the jaw. That means staying away from chewy foods
- Stretching and massage
- Heat and cold therapy may help alleviate the pain
- Don’t rest your hand on your chin
- Eat soft foods
- Learn relaxation techniques that help to loosen the jaw
- Don’t forget to practice good posture.
4. Alternative medication
If any of these medications do not work, you may try these alternative medications:
- T.EN.S. The Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation is a therapy that uses a low-level electrical current to relax the jaw and facial muscles and relieve pain.
- Ultrasound involves the use of deep heat to reduce soreness and improve jaw mobility.
- Trigger-Point injections. The dentist injects anesthesia or pain medication into the trigger points (the tender muscles on your face) to ease the pain.
When none of these medications and therapies help, surgery may be done. Several surgical procedures are available that can help get rid of the pain.
Schedule an Appointment
If you have tenderness in your jaw or have difficulty opening and closing your jaw, visit the Dental Spa for more information on the TMJ treatment and our other General dentistry services in Philadelphia, PA.