Some estimates suggest that TMJ disorders affect more than 10 million Americans, according to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. TMJ disorders appear to be more common in women than men, and can be temporary, but may last for years. So, what are TMJ treatment options and how can you recognize the symptoms?
Understanding TMJ Treatment Options
First, what is TMJ (TMD)?
TMJ stands for temporomandibular (TM) joints. Temporomandibular disorders (TMD) occur as a result of issues with your jaw, jaw joint or surrounding facial muscles that allow you to chew and move your jaw. The disorders are incorrectly called TMJ, which refers to the joints, rather than the disorder.
To determine whether you have TMD, your dentist will closely examine your TMJs for pain or tenderness while listening for clicking, popping or grating sounds while you move your jaw. He or she will also check for any limited range of motion or locking of your jaw while opening and closing it. In some cases, panoramic X-rays will be taken, too.
If your dentist diagnoses you with TMD, he or she may decide to send you to an oral surgeon (maxillofacial surgeon) for more specialized treatment.
Your dentist or oral surgeon may consider several treatment options and will recommend the best one for your case of TMD.
- Splints or night guards: Plastic mouthpieces that fit over your upper and lower teeth will help prevent them from clenching together while correcting your bite. Splints are worn 24-7 whereas night guards are worn only at night. Your dentist will determine which one you need.
- Corrective dental treatments: Treatments to correct damaged teeth, missing teeth, a faulty bite or poor alignment may be recommended. This could involve
crowns, bridges, implants or braces.
- Ultrasound: Deep heat is applied to your TMJs to alleviate pain and/or improve your jaw’s mobility.
- Trigger-point injections: Pain medication or anesthesia is injected into your facial "trigger points,” or muscles, to relieve pain.
- Radio wave therapy: A low-level electrical current is applied to stimulate, increase blood flow and relieve pain in your jaw joint.
- Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS): Low-level electrical currents are used to relax your jaw joint and facial muscles to alleviate pain. TENS can be done at your dentist's office or at home.
- Surgery: Surgery may be an option, but because it is irreversible and risky, always get a second or even third opinion before deciding to do it.
If you are diagnosed with TMD, your dentist or oral surgeon should happily answer any questions you have about treatments. Contact our team of qualified doctors at The Happy Tooth! We are happy to examine and help you make a plan to relieve your pain.
Recognizing the Signs and Symptoms of TMD
Lots of people suffer from facial pain, and TMD is certainly not always the cause. So what are the symptoms of TMD that warrant a call to your dentist? Symptoms of TMJ, or more correctly, symptoms of TMD include:
- Pain or tenderness in your face, jaw joints, neck, and shoulders
- Pain or tenderness around your ear when you speak, chew or open wide
- An inability to open wide
- Clicks, pops, or grating sounds when opening or closing your mouth
- Locking of your jaw in an open or closed position
- Difficulty chewing
- A suddenly uncomfortable bite
- A face that feels tired
- Swelling on the side of your face
- Neck aches
- Headaches and/or dizziness
- Earaches and/or hearing issues
Your TMJ Pain Ends Here
If you are having several of these symptoms, or if you have one severe symptom, call The Happy Tooth today to determine whether you have TMD, and to help relieve your discomfort before it gets worse.
Our Team is Standing By to Help
Relive Your Pain and Brighten Your Smile
Our North Carolina offices are offering a new patient special. While you schedule your TMJ treatment evaluation, you might as well take advantage of our brighter smile package! We have conveniently located offices to better serve you!