Some of the most common painful or dysfunctional issues involving the face, mouth and jaw should not go untreated but should be evaluated by an oral medicine professional. This specialty branch of dentistry helps address these issues in patients who have developed complications due to behavioral patterns, medical and dental history, or hereditary conditions. In…
Popular Treatments for TMJ
If you have TMJ, you know how painful the condition can be. There are many factors that can cause this condition, so the treatment will vary depending on the patient. Working with a dentist can help you find the right treatment for this disorder. You might make lifestyle changes or treat an underlying condition.
Sometimes, patients can make changes to their lifestyle to help relieve symptoms of TMJ disorders. This can work well for a mild or a moderate case of TMJ. Generally, dentists recommend that patients try to rest the jaw as much as possible. This can avoid triggering the condition. There are several ways to do this:
- Eating soft foods
- Avoiding gum
- Not clenching the jaw
Using either ice or heat, as well as taking over-the-counter medications, can help relieve the pain. Sometimes, dentists may recommend that patients do gentle exercise. This can include stretching the jaw. It can be helpful to gently massage the muscles on the jaw. A dentist can help a patient determine the right combination of exercises and rest.
Sometimes, TMJ pain is caused by conditions that a patient already has. Treating the underlying condition will help treat the TMJ disorder. A common cause of TMJ is teeth grinding, or bruxism. This causes a patient to clench and grind the teeth during sleep. If a patient has bruxism, then a mouthguard can be helpful. A dentist can give the patient a customized one.
Another way that teeth grinding can be treated is through muscle relaxants. These medications can also help relieve TMJ that is caused by jaw clenching or muscle spasms. A doctor may also recommend tricyclic antidepressants, including amitriptyline. These antidepressants can help manage pain and prevent teeth grinding. For patients who experience sleepless nights, amitriptyline can be helpful when taken in low doses.
In other cases, TMJ is a sign of arthritis or osteoarthritis. Sometimes, getting injections of steroids can be helpful for patients. A doctor will inject the steroid into the joint to reduce pain, swelling and joint clicking. Patients can usually feel results from the injections within a week or so. This may be either a permanent or a temporary fix.
Sometimes, cases of TMJ disorders are too advanced to treat with other methods. If this is the case, then a dentist may recommend jaw surgery. There are many causes of TMJ, including damage to the muscles or another jaw. However, if the joint is damaged, then surgery may be the only option. Rarely, an oral surgeon may need to entirely replace the joint.
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If you have a TMJ disorder, then it is a good idea to get advice from your doctor. You should not try a treatment at home unless your doctor thinks it is a good idea. You can risk damaging the joint permanently. You may also not know the extent of the condition until a health care provider evaluates you.
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