If you suffer a chronic pain in your jaw, then you should consider a TMJ disorder treatment to relieve the pain and prevent the joint from getting worse. TMJ disorder is when you have a problem with the temporomandibular joint, a joint that connects your jaw to your skull. This is one of the most frequently used joints in the body – the joint that we use to bite, chew, swallow, talk, yawn and make facial expressions. No one treatment can resolve TMJ disorders completely and treatment takes time to become effective. Yes, the treatment for temporomandibular disorders requires a multidisciplinary approach, involving the participation of dentists and other medical specialists to help you have a healthier and more comfortable jaw.
If you have been diagnosed with TMJ disorder, your dentist may suggest a variety of treatment options to help manage your pain and ease symptoms. This is because treatments work best when used in combination.
- Eat soft foods that does not require a lot of chewing
- Ice packs to relax the tight muscles that may cause spasm and exercises to help with the jaw alignment and muscle strengthening
- Maintain good posture to lessen pressure on the jaw
- Take anti-inflammatory medicines, muscle relaxants or pain killers to help relieve the symptoms
- Mouth guards to reduce the clenching and grinding, and also ease the muscle tension
- Orthodontic work to correct bite abnormalities
If none of these treatments work, surgery may be your last recourse. The two main types of surgery for TMJ disorder are
Arthroscopy: After administering general anesthesia a thin, lighted tube is inserted through a small incision in front of your ear. This instrument is connected to a small camera and a monitor that allows the surgeon to loosen some stiffness in the joint or reposition a displaced disc depending on the TMD.
Open joint surgery: Your surgeon makes an incision in the skin crease in front of the ear and opens up the joint area to repair or reposition the displaced disc.
The symptoms of TMD are many and varied. These include but not limited to
- A dull and constant or sharp and sporadic pain in the face, jaw or neck
- Waking up with sore, stiff muscles around your jaws
- Suffering from frequent headaches or neck aches
- Difficulty or pain when opening your mouth, eating or yawning
- Dizziness, slurred speech or vision problems
- Uncomfortable or uneven bite
- Pain, ringing or congestion of ears
- Teeth clenching or grinding
- Limited movement or locking of the jaw
- Painful clicking, popping or grating sounds in the jaw joint when opening or closing the mouth
- Painful or sensitive teeth
You may be eligible for a TMD treatment when all self-care practices aimed at eliminating muscle spasms and restoring muscle balance fail to provide relief and you are
- Willing and committed to maintain an ongoing treatment regimen
- Suffering mental or psychological stress stemming from the condition, which in turn exacerbates your symptoms
- Suffering from systemic conditions related to TMJ disorder
- Having an understanding that TMJ syndrome requires a multi-faceted treatment approach
Complications from arthroscopic temporomandibular surgery are uncommon but may include swelling, ear damage, temporary nerve damage, temporary or permanent hearing loss and joint infection.
Complications from Open joint surgery are rare and may not happen to you. But as with any surgery, potential complications may include bleeding, infection and temporary nerve damage.
A right mix of treatment options is extremely helpful in relieving the pain, inflammation and tension associated with the condition. You can speak, yawn and use your mouth the way you did before you developed the disorder. You will have no pain when eating, so a full range of dietary options will be opened up to you once more. It also reduces the risk of dental damage caused by grinding the teeth and protects your teeth and jaws from the need for restorative care. In short, a well performed TMJ surgery can significantly restore joint function as well as increase overall patient comfort.
TMJ disorders can be debilitating. So, see your dentist as soon as you develop symptoms. Don't wait until your symptoms get severe. Your dentist will help determine the cause of your TMJ pain and recommend a treatment that works best for you. Put an end to the pain and aggravation of living with TMJ disorder. Get the relief you need so that dealing with TMD is a thing of the past. Experience improved jaw function and enhanced quality of life with TMD treatment!