What Is the Most Effective Treatment for TMJ?
What Is TMJ?
It is an acronym for Temporomandibular Joint. It refers to a connective joint that links the jawbone to the skull. Complications like trauma, displacement, irritation, or inflammation of this joint result in a disorder called Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMD). However, people use TMJ and TMD interchangeably to refer to the condition.
What Causes TMJ Disorders?
Any factors impacting your jawbone and/or your skull can result in TMD. Some of the known risk factors that can contribute to a problematic TMJ are:
- Dental trauma – is the most obvious way for patients to suffer from TMJ-related complications. Besides, many patients seeking TMJ treatment in Bay City have suffered trauma due to injuries or accidents.
- Bruxism – is a condition of excessive teeth grinding at night when sleeping. Although it is common with kids, some adults grind their teeth in their sleep. Teeth grinding places unnecessary pressure on teeth and jaw, which can inflame, irritate or damage the TMJ.
- Arthritis – various types of arthritis can impact your bone health, leading to TMJ complications. Some types of arthritis include osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
- Poor sleeping postures – your sleeping conditions can affect your jaw’s health. Lying on a hard surface or lying on the side can heighten the risk of TMD.
- Jaw misuse and overuse – poor oral habits like chewing hard non-food items can impact your jawbone’s health. For instance, opening cans with teeth and chewing pens.
- Chronic stress, anxiety, or depression – they intensify clenching.
How Will You Know You Have TMD?
Ideally, not all patients who benefit from TMJ dentists in Bay City know they suffer from TMD. Many only seek treatment to address dental pain. However, you can identify TMD and jawbone problems by considering the following factors:
- Pain when you move your jaw
- Difficulty chewing and speaking properly
- Jaw lock – your mouth gets stuck when you open it wide, for example, to yawn
- Ear pain
- Swelling on the side of your face
- Clicking sound or grating sensation when you move your jaw, especially when chewing
Which Treatments Are Available for TMD?
TMJ treatment near you can take many forms depending on the underlying cause and the severity of the problem. Some treatment protocols entail lifestyle changes, while others involve surgery and therapies. Some of the options you can explore for TMJ treatment are:
- Eating soft foods while avoiding poor oral habits
- Changing your sleeping posture
- Cold compressing the affected side of the joint to alleviate pain and swelling
- Taking prescribed medication, including nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen
- Wearing a night guard – is a mouth protector for use at night, usually to counter the effects of bruxism.
- Different therapies – including physical therapies.
What Kind of Therapy Is There for TMJ?
Therapies for TMD treatment work to address mild to moderate complications, a severe TMJ disorder would require surgical measures to correct displacements and address possible fractures. At Dr. Teeth Dental Care – Bay City, some of the therapies we administer to treat TMD include:
- Physical therapies – mostly include guided jaw movements and exercises to stretch and strengthen your jaw muscles. Massages, acupuncture, and soft tissue mobilization reduce tension and stiffness to increase motion and function.
- Habit counseling – provides insight into various changes you must make to better your jaw health. The counseling will address habits like teeth grinding, clenching, leaning on your chin, or biting your fingernails. This type of therapy works best for children and adolescents that may struggle to abandon bad oral habits on their own.
- Device therapy – dentists can administer different oral devices for your treatment. Prosthodontics like dentures and dental bridges replace your missing teeth to restore balance and alignment to your jawbone. Splints, on the other hand, stabilize and protect your jaw and joint upon injury. A night guard protects your teeth from excessive pressure at night due to teeth grinding.
How Long Does TMJ Therapy Last?
TMJ therapy can last about 18 months to three years before all your symptoms can resolve. The longevity of your therapy will depend on the severity of your condition and how quickly your body heals. However, some treatments, like physical therapies, are short-term. If they do not work, you may need to proceed with invasive measures like surgery.