TMJ: A Cooperative Approach
As with many dental health procedures, the treatment of TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorders requires a cooperative approach between you (the patient) and me (the doctor). Once we have diagnosed the condition and narrowed in on the problem, we have many different treatment options to explore together. And luckily, most cases of TMJ do not require surgery.
Symptoms of TMJ disorder range from an aching jaw and painful ear to difficulty chewing. Oftentimes there is a clicking noise when chewing. And occasionally, locking of the joint can even occur.
The causes are just as wide-ranging as the symptoms. Sometimes TMJ disorder is caused by a lack of cartilage, sometimes by a blow or impact injury, and occasionally it can be caused by excessive teeth clenching or grinding.
Once we have diagnosed (or ruled out) TMJ disorder, we can get to work on developing a treatment plan for you. Here are some common treatment options that we will discuss in the office, divided up by: things we will do in the office and things you can do at home.
In the Office, we may:
- Administer medications to reduce the immediate pain and relax the muscle.
- Provide you with a splint (night guard). The purpose of this is to keep your teeth apart during the night, allowing the muscles to relax.
- Provide you with an anterior positioning appliance to keep your jaw forward.
- In EXTREME cases, where the jaw can’t open or is dislocated, surgery may be recommended.
At home, we may ask you to:
- Be mindful of keeping your teeth apart and resting your jaw when not eating.
- Use ice and heat packs to comfort the area.
- Eat soft foods.
- Be aware of your posture.
- Try a stress management routine that might include biofeedback.
Whatever type of jaw pain you are having, please give us a call so that we can help you figure out how serious it is and what to do about it!
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