TMJ Disorder Treatment
TMJ refers to the temporomandibular joint, which consists of the bone structure, muscles and connective tissues that surround the jaw and control chewing. When patients experience disorders of this joint, they are said to have a temporomandibular joint disorder, or TMD. Symptoms of TMJ disorder include pain and tenderness near the jaw, as well as popping or clicking in the joint when speaking or chewing. There are many ways of treating TMJ disorders ranging from non-invasive therapy and bite splints to injections or surgery. Left untreated, TMJ disorders can lead to headaches, muscle pain, malocclusion and tooth damage from grinding or clenching.
Frequently Asked Questions
You will first need to be formally examined and diagnosed with TMJ disorder. Your Greenwood Village dentist will evaluate the extent of the condition and determine what course of treatment is best for you. Usually, the initial approach involves conservative treatments such as self-care, physical therapy and bite guards. Medications may also be used to relax the jaw or relieve pain. Patients who do not respond to conservative treatments may be considered for surgery or joint injections.
TMJ treatment varies from patient to patient, so your experience may be very different than that of someone else. You may be asked to adopt certain lifestyle changes to help facilitate rehabilitation in your jaw. For example, you may be asked to avoid sudden jaw movements, such as yelling or yawning. You may also need to begin sleeping on your back and take steps to reduce your stress levels. For acute pain it is important to schedule an appointment immediately. Dr. Kittell will perform therapies called “deprogramming” to try and alleviate the pain. Splint therapies such as night guards may be recommended. Depending on the cause of the pain in your joint, a custom-made splint will be made to help alleviate symptoms. In order to make the splint, impressions of your teeth are taken. The splint will be made in a lab and then fitted and adjusted to your mouth at a later appointment.
Your post-treatment care instructions will vary according to the type of treatment you receive. It is advised to avoid excessive jaw use. For example, it is recommended that you do not chew gum or hard foods.