Implant supported dentures are a popular tooth replacement option that many dentists recommend for patients who need to replace an entire arch of missing teeth. They are a hybrid option that combines multiple oral prosthetics to replace teeth, which gives the patient the ability to eat, smile and speak naturally. However, with every dental procedure…
TMJ Treatment Options From A Family Dentist
There are various ways a family dentist can go about addressing issues with the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). The TMJs connect a person's skull to their lower jaw. These joints are responsible for any movements made with the mouth, including eating, speaking and smiling.
The symptoms and signs of TMJ problems include:
- Migraines and headaches
- Jaw pain
- Neck, back and shoulder pain
- Clicking or popping sounds coming from the jaw
- Problems opening and closing the mouth
Treating TMJ disorders
TMJ disorders typically go away on their own after a few months. More challenging cases might require some lifestyle changes to speed up the recovery process and to alleviate the symptoms of TMJ. These include:
- Applying ice or heat to the area
- Using over-the-counter painkillers to manage any pain
- Taking anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce inflammation
- Avoiding chewy, sticky foods and chewing gum
- Essential oils like lavender can provide relief from the symptoms of TMJ
Some cases of TMJ disorders require treatment from a dentist or doctor. Treatments that a family dentist can perform to help cope with a temporomandibular joint disorder include the following:
- Stretching and massaging the jaw and the muscles around it with stretching exercises
- Stress management and relaxation techniques
- Dental splints can be used to keep teeth in their proper position and reduce the symptoms of TMJ
- Using medication like muscle relaxants and steroids to alleviate any pain
- Botox® injections can be used to treat TMJ issues caused by hyperactive muscles. This treatment approach is yet to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration
- Behavioral therapy can be used to address habits that aggravate the TMJs
- TMJ arthroscopy
- Total joint replacement. This is usually reserved for the most extreme cases
What life after TMJ looks like
Most cases of TMJ disorders resolve themselves within a few months. Cases that do not go away can be addressed with the treatments listed above. Most people who develop problems with their temporomandibular joints can undergo treatment and return to life without TMJ pain.
People can reduce their risk of developing issues with their temporomandibular joints in the future by maintaining proper posture, avoiding chewing gum and eating mostly soft foods. Using protective equipment like mouthguards when participating in sports reduces the risk of the temporomandibular joints being damaged by trauma to the face. Additionally, wearing a nightguard when sleeping helps reduce bruxism, which can lead to TMJ disorders.
When to seek treatment
Anyone who has noticed stiffness in their jaw, pain, or inflammation that has lasted more than a few months should visit a family dentist for a diagnosis. The dentist can evaluate the severity of the patient's condition and determine what treatment options are most appropriate for them.
Visual examinations, touch stimulation, and diagnostic tests like CT scans and x-rays are used to make a diagnosis. Most people who get treatment for TMJ disorders are able to restore their bite and their quality of life. Not treating TMJ issues opens the door for complications like chronic headaches.
Get TMJ treatment
Call or visit our Tucson clinic to learn more about how a family dentist can help put TMJ problems behind you.
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