TMJ is the temporomandibular (tem-puh-roe-man-DIB-u-lur) joint in your jaw, oftentimes people refer to “TMJ” as a greater variety of issues including pain, headaches, or dislocation.
TMJ issues arise when the muscles and joints around the skull become inflamed due to trauma. Something as simple as teeth grinding can cause TMD. Patients who suffer from TMJ pain often have underlying causes such as grinding teeth at night or clenching.
TMD (dysfunction of the joint) is not an incurable problem. With the proper treatment from your dentist, your pain and discomfort can be alleviated.
To cure TMJ pain, we have to fix the problem at the source.
Your dentist may recommend a type of physical therapy. Exercises that can relieve pain and support the TMJ include:
These exercises can help with range of movement and pain reduction. They gently exercise the joint, and relieve pressure.
Tension of the facial muscles is a common cause of TMD. These exercises intentionally activate different muscles to reduce pressure. Another good practice is to check in with yourself every hour - ask yourself: are you holding tension in your face?
Botox for TMJ pain has become a popular procedure. This injection is found to reduce discomfort and prevent major teeth clenching.
This isn’t a traditional botox treatment, and you wouldn’t see immediate changes to your face such as botox for wrinkles. The injection is placed at the joint to reduce tension and discomfort caused by TMD.
They are traditionally done every 6 months, but time depends on how fast your body metabolizes the injection.
Botox is usually recommended for more severe cases in combination with mouth guards or
If you suffer from bruxism (teeth clenching), a mouth guard is needed at night to prevent TMD and other dental issues such as fractures. Bruxism can cause pain in your jaw muscles, loose or fractured teeth, and increased stress on the TMJ discs and bones.
Your dentist will custom fit a mouthguard to ensure its comfort and safety. These alleviate pressure and prevent you from making serious damage to your teeth and jaw. It is important to have a custom fitted guard to prevent any other issues from arising such as a bite change.
Those who suffer from teeth clenching during the day, a dentist might advise you to wear one when stressed, nervous, or exercising.
Splits are made for those who need extra support and potential alignment. They might remind you of a retainer or clear aligner. Custom made by the dental office, they cushion your teeth and can be designed to adjust your bite. When bites are off center, more damage can be made to the TMJ and teeth based off pressure points.
Splints may be a temporary or long term lifestyle change to heal and prevent TMJ pain.
Surgery for TMJ is recommended if the earlier solutions have done nothing to heal the TMJ.
If major damage has been done to the TMJ by trauma such as dislocation, or severe TMD, a repositioning of the joint may be necessary. The most common surgery for TMJ issues is an arthroscopy.
It is performed under general anaesthesia, and is done to be as un-invasive as possible. The dental surgeon makes 2 small incisions in front of the ear to access the TMJ. There should not be noticeable scars once healed.
If you’re experiencing any jaw pain - it’s best to get it treated ASAP to avoid future or permanent damage. Our team at City of Oaks will explain the causes of TMD, what might be impacting you, and how to prevent pain in the first place.