TMJ refers to the temporomandibular joint, which is 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 TMD 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 in Greenwood Village, ranging from non-invasive therapy and bite splints to injections or surgery. Left untreated, however, TMJ disorders can lead to headaches, muscle pain, malocclusion and tooth damage from grinding or clenching.
Did you know…
that TMD alone is not a disorder, but instead a collection of disorders that affect the temporomandibular joint? It is the second most common pain-causing musculoskeletal condition in the U.S. according to the U.S. National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, as many as 12 percent of Americans may suffer from some type of TMD, with women twice as likely to be affected than men. But despite the prevalence and wide availability of treatment, only one out every three people with TMD fails to seek treatment.
You will first need to be formally examined and diagnosed with TMJ disorder. You 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.
Greenwood Village TMJ treatment varies from patient to patient, so your experience may be very different than someone else’s. You’ll probably 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 guard 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 are taken of your teeth. 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 not use your jaw excessively. For example, it is recommended that you do not chew gum or hard foods.