There is a good chance you don’t spend much time thinking about your temporomandibular joints. Even though you might not think about them much, or at all, you do use them quite a bit. You use them every time you bite, chew, speak, yawn, or move your jaw in any way. If something goes wrong with these joints, they become all you can think about. Summit Dental Care can help.
Temporomandibular Joint Disorder
Temporomandibular joint disorder, commonly called TMJ or TMD, encompasses several different issues. These issues affect the joints and your jaw muscles. You may develop TMJ as a result of a jaw injury, jaw dislocation, inflammation from arthritis, or excessive pressure from bruxism. When you develop TMJ, you might not know that you have it. You may only notice that you have some jaw or joint pain. This pain may be more severe when you move your mouth in any way, such as when you chew or talk. Other symptoms of TMJ include facial pain, headaches, earaches, pain in your neck and shoulders, and clicking or popping when you move your mouth.
Can TMJ/TMD Be Treated at Home?
It may be possible to treat TMJ at home. There are exercises that you can try to help increase your range of motion. For some, pain relievers can help to alleviate the pain caused by TMJ. If your TMJ is caused by stress-related bruxism, relaxation techniques may be able to help. Typically, home treatments for TMJ are only effective if the condition is mild. If these remedies do not work for you, it may be time to seek out professional dental treatment.
Non-Surgical Treatments for TMJ/TMD
One of the most popular treatments we can provide for TMJ is a nighttime mouthguard. This is an oral appliance that resembles a whitening tray or sports mouthguard. We create a custom mouthguard just for you using digital impressions of your mouth. The mouthguard helps to protect the joints and muscles by absorbing the impact of grinding and clenching. A mouthguard also helps to protect your teeth from the dangers of bruxism, preventing tooth wear and tooth damage.
Another non-surgical treatment for TMJ is Botox. While Botox is commonly associated with medical aesthetics, it also has benefits for bruxism. By strategically injecting Botox, we can weaken the muscles that contract to cause grinding and clenching. This helps to stop nighttime bruxism, alleviating the symptoms of bruxism and TMJ. Other non-surgical treatments include prescription pain medications, muscle relaxants, and physical therapy.
Does TMJ/TMD Require Surgery?
In severe cases, surgery may be recommended. Keep in mind that surgery is generally only recommended when more conservative treatments do not yield the desired results. There are a few different surgical procedures that may be recommended, including arthrocentesis, arthroscopy, and open joint surgery. Arthrocentesis involves injecting a liquid into the joints to flush them out. This is one of the least invasive surgical procedures. Arthroscopy involves inserting a small camera into the joints so that we can examine them and then using small tools to treat the tissue. Open joint surgery is the most invasive surgery. We open up the joint so that we can treat it or replace the joint if necessary.
If TMJ/TMD is affecting your quality of life, we can help. Call Summit Dental Care at (208)733-9999 today to schedule your appointment.