Temporomandibular joint disorder, or TMJ/TMD for short, is a collection of conditions that affect your jaw. About 10 million people in the United States have a form of TMJ/TMD. The causes of this disorder can vary and include injury, jaw clenching or teeth grinding during sleep, genetics and arthritis. TMJ/TMD is often very painful and the cause is sometimes hard to determine for sure.
There are a variety of treatments available for TMJ/TMD. Your dentist will explain at-home treatments that you can do yourself in addition to treatments provided at our office when you schedule a consultation today by contacting us at Cherry Hill Dental Smiles.
Signs of TMJ
There are many symptoms that you could experience with TMJ. In general, you would only need to seek treatment if you lose mobility or the ability to do everyday tasks such as eating. For example, your jaw may “crack” or make a clicking sound. This is not necessarily something to worry about if it is the only symptom you have. However, when you have multiple symptoms, this disorder can become painful and unpleasant.
Other symptoms of TMJ include jaw tenderness or pain, facial pain, ear pain, difficulty in chewing and lockjaw. Conditions that would cause you to seek professional treatment would include persistent symptoms or a loss of mobility in your jaw or the ability to chew properly.
Treatments for TMJ will vary depending on your symptoms, severity and cause of the disorder. Most often, this disorder can be treated with medication or therapy. Sometimes both are necessary. Rarely, you will need surgery to correct the misalignment but this is only in severe cases.
If the symptoms are severe but not enough for surgery, your dentist will prescribe pain relievers, muscle relaxers and anti-inflammatories. If this is affecting the quality of your sleep, our dentist may also give you a prescription for a sleep aid.
Therapy refers to various forms of physical therapy. This includes general physical therapy as well as wearing an item like a mouthguard. Your dental team will guide you through stretches and exercises to help alleviate TMJ and help your jaw. They may use heat and ice therapy to relieve pain or inflammation as well as teach you said exercises that you can do at home. A mouthguard will help you from grinding your teeth which can put a further strain on your TMJ. This relieves jaw tension and also protects your teeth from damage. Your dentist will consult you regarding daily habits that may cause TMJ.
Surgery is only for the most severe cases. Surgery may involve arthrocentesis, injection, modified condylotomy and open-joint surgery. Prior to your procedure, you may also need to have an arthroscopy. This is when our dentist creates a small incision so that a camera can be inserted into the jaw and they can determine the extent of the damage. The material in the injections would be corticosteroids or botox. This can help reduce inflammation and ensure that the jaw is in the proper position.
Arthrocentesis is the use of small needles in the joint to inject a liquid that flushes out debris creating inflammation. Modified condylotomy increases the space in the joints, relieving pain and lockjaw. Open-joint surgery either repairs or replaces the entire joint. This is only used in extreme cases.
Your dentist will explain the treatments and exercises you can use at home. This includes stretches, diet habits, like not chewing gum and only eating soft foods, self-massage, and using heat and ice regularly. Please contact Cherry Hill Dental Smiles by calling 856-667-3737 today.