Do you need TMJ treatment?

You may not have heard of the temporomandibular joint, but you use it every day. Your temporomandibular joints are small disks of cartilage that connect your jawbone to your skull like a hinge. You use them for everything from talking to chewing to swallowing. Because of their importance in our everyday lives, damage to these joints can be painful and uncomfortable. Dr. Ravin and his team at Hospital Dental Group have been treating cases like this for years, and can take you through your options from the initial diagnosis to TMJ treatment.

What is TMJ?

According to the American Academy of Otolaryngology, Temporomandibular Joint Syndrome (often called TMJ Syndrome or TMD) manifests as pain around the temporomandibular joints, which is caused by the displacement of the cartilage disc in the jaw. This results in extra pressure and stretching of sensory nerves in the affected area.

Symptoms/Diagnosis

There are certain symptoms Dr. Ravin and his team at Hospital Dental Group will look for when evaluating whether or not you need TMJ treatment. According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, the symptoms of TMJ  will appear around the jaw and include:

  • muscle stiffness in the affected area
  • restricted movement or locking of the jaw
  • painful clicking or popping when opening or closing your mouth

For diagnoses of TMJ syndrome, the TMJ Association recommends seeking out a healthcare professional for a clinical examination, especially if the pain does not go away on its own. Hospital Dental Group can use X-rays and other tools in the diagnostic process to assess TMJ Dysfunction.

Treatment

If you find out that you do have TMJ Syndrome, there are several ways Hospital Dental Group can treat the problem

  • Medication: Monitored, short-term use of pain medications can provide relief from symptoms. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can also help in this area
  • Splints: stabilization splints, also called mouth guards, may be recommended as a TMJ treatment. They are soft or firm devices that fit over your upper or lower teeth to relieve pain.
  • Surgery: In more severe cases, surgery may be suggested, although it is typically a last resort. There are several types of procedures, and our dentists can take you through your options so you can make an informed decision.  

There are also things you can do at home to treat the pain. Tips for self-care practices include:

  • Using cold compresses: Ice packs can numb the pain and decrease inflammation. Keep the pack wrapped in a clean cloth and use in 10-15 minute intervals only.
  • Using hot compresses: A heat pack or hot water bottle wrapped in a moist towel can relieve pain when applied to the affected area. Be sure not to burn yourself when using this method.
  • Eating soft foods: Any food that is crunchy or requires you to stretch your mouth should be avoided. Aim for soft foods or blended drinks to avoid exacerbating the pain.
  • Utilizing jaw relaxation exercises: Certain therapeutic jaw exercises can be immensely helpful for TMJ Dysfunction, and a recent study in the Journal of Dental Research suggested it could bring recovery even faster than splints. You can check out different exercises here.  

TMJ Syndrome can be irritating and even debilitating, but with proper treatment, you can live with it and manage the pain. If you think you may need TMJ treatment, contact Hospital Dental Group today to schedule an appointment!