Dealing with the pain of TMJ can be unbearable and make important functions like talking or eating extremely difficult. Working with a general dentist may be able to provide treatments for TMJ and limit the number of symptoms or the severity of symptoms caused by TMJ syndrome.
What Is TMJ Syndrome?
TMJ refers to the function of your temporomandibular joint, which helps connect your jaw to your skull. The temporomandibular joint helps you to open in close your mouth while eating, talking, and more. This joint moves in many different directions which can make the complications extremely painful and hard to treat.
Some common symptoms and signs that you could be experiencing TMJ problems are:
- Pain when opening and closing your mouth
- Trouble chewing
- Jaw getting stuck (both open or shut)
- Headaches or ear aches
- Clicking or popping when opening your mouth
- Teeth grinding
Seeking treatment from a doctor and a dentist can help you learn new ways to train your jaw, while also finding relief from consistent pain. The cause of your TMJ can be difficult to diagnose, but finding the root cause of your TMJ (injury, misaligned teeth, genetics, arthritis, etc.) will help you determine the best treatments for TMJ.
1- Oral Appliance Therapy
One option that dentists may use to treat TMJ is oral appliance therapy. Appliance therapy involves using a mouth guard or other hardware to help with sore muscles, and worn teeth, or prevent headaches. This can help limit teeth grinding which can irritate your TMJ joint.
This can also be helpful to realign your bite. Often times with TMJ, your joint and jaw will become misaligned and can cause abnormal teeth wearing. Or when you have trouble chewing, your teeth become more worn on one side. Oral appliance therapy can help realign your bite and make sure your teeth wear correctly.
2- Muscle Relaxant Or Other Medications
Patients with TMJ often experience a lot of pain, so muscle relaxants or other medications are used to help limit the pain. Some common medications that dentists can give to help ease the pressure on the TMJ joint are muscle relaxants, anti-anxiety medication, anti-inflammatory medicines, or analgesics. Temporary pain relievers may also help.
3- Jaw Relaxation Exercises
Having tension and stress in your jaw makes your TMJ symptoms worse, so finding ways to relax your jaw is one of the most effective treatments for TMJ. Stretching your entire mouth area can help your jaw get stronger. By doing this you can limit the pain in the joint, and increase the amount your jaw can handle, which limits TMJ pain. Your dentist may help coach you through these at first and then encourage you to do them daily or multiple times a week at home.
For TMJ patients that experience extreme symptoms, acupuncture may be recommended as a form of therapy. Some patients find this effective, but it may not work for all TMJ patients, because the syndrome and its causes are complex.
Acupuncture can be scary and nerve-wracking for some people. If you feel worried or tense about acupuncture, you are probably better off seeking another solution to limit the tension in your jaw.
5- Using Heat And Ice At Home
Relieving swelling and tension are some popular dental treatments for TMJ. Using cold and hot presses at home can help reduce swelling and limit your pain. By applying heat to the side of your face and temple for about 10 minutes, you help to relax the muscles. You can then follow the heat with light relaxation exercises. Finish the process with an ice pack on the side of your face for about 5 minutes.
Other Treatments for TMJ
- Keep your teeth apart
- Avoid chewing gum or ice
- Reduce your stress level
- Don’t hold your phone between your shoulder and ear
- Try not to yawn
- Correct your posture
- Try a soft food diet
Sunset Dental And Our Treatments For TMJ
Our dentists are here to help improve your smile, oral health, and confidence. Our team at Sunset Dental has experience dealing with TMJ syndrome and helping patients find relief. Before you suffer in silence, try working with a dentist who can truly improve your situation. TMJ is a complicated disorder that can be debilitating. Sunset Dental Care is here to help take some of that stress off your shoulders.