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The joint that attaches the lower part of your jaw to your skull is known as the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). It really is a hinge and it enables the opening and closing of your mouth.  It also allows your mouth to move from one side to the other when you chew.  The joint is surrounded by muscles to control the position of the jaw.  There are people who suffer disorders that may affect the TMJ, the muscles surrounding it or both.

tmj-disorder-treatmentImage source: steveevansoms.co.nz

TMJ syndrome is a painful condition that also restricts the function of the jaw.  Even though most people experience the symptoms temporarily and they naturally disappear on their own, for others the issue may require surgical intervention.

Treatment options, both surgical and non-surgical, are available as follows:

  1. Non-Surgical Treatment Options for TMJ

When it comes to the TMJ treatment, the key is being conservative.  Usually, the treatment can be done in the comfort of your home and without any surgical intervention.  If the issue is very severe, there may be need for mouth guards, splints and therapy.

  • Physiotherapy for the Jaw

This works well to reduce stiffness and pain while improving the muscles range of motion and strength.  It includes mobilization, stretching the muscle gently, acupuncture and exercise.  If you are experiencing muscle spasms that are related to TMJ, this is going to be the first line of treatment for you.

  • Managing Stress

Stress can cause one to grind and clench the teeth, and this can make TMJ worse.  It is therefore important that you learn some relaxation techniques such as altering your breathing patterns and even learning how to breathe correctly.  You may want to go a step further and identify your stressors and then make whatever lifestyle changes are necessary.

  • Helpful Medication

If you have been going through TMJ symptoms and treatment for a long while, you may have some medications prescribed to help.  These include anti-inflammatory pills, sedatives, anti-depressants, anti-anxiety and muscle relaxants.

  • Occlusal Appliance Therapy for TMJ

When you go to bed at night, you may be required to wear splints or bite plates which are effective in taking pressure off your teeth and jaw joints causing your muscles need to relax.

 

tmj-disease-treatment

Image source: drlarrywolford.com

  1. Surgical Treatment Options for TMJ

Surgery will not be considered unless it is absolutely necessary.  This will likely only happen if the cartilage found in the joint has been displaced severely.  This can result in pain and can limit your jaw function.  Surgery will only be considered if the jaw cannot be repositioned some other way and if other TMJ disorder treatments have failed.  Eminectomy is the most common surgery.  Here, part of your jaw joint, the part obstructing forward movement, is removed.  It is usually carried out under general anesthesia and considered a minor surgery.

  • Botox as TMJ Treatment

Botox is generally known for the reduction of frown lines and wrinkles.  Today however, it is being used in dental offices to treat TMJ.  Botox is generally injected in the medial pterygoid, masseter and temporalis, which are the muscles that work together to move the jaw.  Those who have experienced this treatment have reported significant improvement in function, pain, amount of tenderness and mouth-opening ability.

Botox works by relaxing the muscles that move uncontrollably because it blocks the nerve signals. It takes ten to fifteen minutes to take effect and remains effective between 2 and 6 months.

  • Arthrocentesis

In this procedure, fluid is extracted from the joint with a needle.  The area is then irrigated in order to remove any inflammatory derivatives and fragments that may be causing the problem.  Once that is done, a lubricant is then injected back to ensure that the joint moves again normally.  This procedure works for some but not others, and recovery takes about two days.

  • Arthroscopy

This procedure is somewhat similar to the one above albeit more invasive.  Here, an intra-oral camera is used to examine the inner part of the jaw joint.  The dental surgeon will then determine the best course of action depending on his findings.  These may include removing scar tissue that may be loose, stitching the discs and the like.  It is an outpatient procedure and it takes about a week to recover.  The required incision is quite small.

  • Arthroplasty

This term refers to open joint surgery.  It is only done if the less invasive surgical procedures cannot resolve your problem.  If there is need to do surgery on the bone, or to replace, remove or repair the articular disc, then this is the preferred treatment.  You will be under either general or local anesthesia and a small cut will be made right in front of your ear.

  • Osseous Surgery

In the event that your bones are shaped badly, then this is the ideal treatment to re-structure and re-shape the disc.  It is a surgical procedure that attempts to remodel your bone.

  • Menictomy

This procedure includes a partial or complete removal of the disc.  The cartilage may be damaged beyond repair and may need to be replaced with an implant that carries out the same functions.

  1. Alternative Treatments for TMJ

These include radio wave therapy, TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation), trigger-point injections and ultrasound.  These options are known to provide temporary relief but do not completely treat the problem. They are a good option for TMJ pain treatment but not TMJ cure.

 

TMJ disease can be painful, making life very uncomfortable.  It is treatable however, and should be looked into as soon as possible in order to avoid the more invasive treatments.  Contact us and let Joshua Hong DDS help you find the relief you are looking for.

 

Image source: hiltonheadoralsurgery.com