If you have TMJ (temporomandibular joint disorder, also sometimes called TMD) you may be wondering what your treatment options are. TMJ is a painful and uncomfortable health issue, characterized by radiating facial pain, headaches, difficulty moving your jaw properly, “clicking” and “popping” noises when opening your mouth, and many other symptoms.
But don’t worry. In many cases, TMJ is not that serious, and can be resolved easily, without jaw surgery or any other invasive procedures. In this article, we’ll take a look at some of your treatment options for TMJ, and explain a bit more about each one.
- Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) And Painkillers
For minor cases of TMJ, you may be simply told to take over-the-counter pain medications, like ibuprofen, acetaminophen, and naproxen. These drugs help reduce inflammation and mitigate pain, allowing you to stay comfortable as your temporomandibular joint heals.
In some cases, you may also get stronger pain relievers, if your pain is severe, but your case of TMJ will still be able to heal on its own.
- Muscle Relaxants
Muscle relaxants are often used in parallel with NSAIDs, particularly for those who are exhibiting behaviors like teeth grinding and clenching (bruxism), or for those whose temporomandibular joint has been damaged by facial trauma. They can help relax the joint and your jaw, allowing it to heal more quickly, and relieve pain.
- Counseling And Lifestyle Changes
In some cases, TMJ can be caused by lifestyle issues. Teeth clenching and grinding caused by stress, for example, can cause or aggravate TMJ.
Biting your fingernails, or chewing tobacco or gum for long periods of time could also cause your joint to become damaged and inflamed, so finding a way to break these habits may be enough to resolve your case of TMJ. Eating soft foods for a period of time could also help relieve pain, and allow your TMJ to heal.
- Physical Therapy
Physical therapy is often used with the above TMJ treatments. It could involve the application of heat and cold, as well as jaw stretches and exercises to help strengthen the jaw muscles and the temporomandibular joint.
- Oral Splints Or Mouthguards
Oral splints or mouthguards are often recommended to treat TMJ for folks who struggle with teeth grinding, particularly at night. They help prevent the teeth from touching each other, and reduce stress on the temporomandibular joint.
In addition, oral splints can sometimes help patients who have TMJ due to arthritis or an autoimmune disease, by reducing strain on the joint, and placing it in a more natural, healthy position at night.
- Corticosteroid Injections
Corticosteroids are usually given to patients who are suffering from TMJ discomfort due to arthritis and other degenerative joint diseases, or who have a serious case of TMJ that is causing “lockjaw.”
Using a local anesthetic, corticosteroids are injected directly into the joint, which helps keep it healthy and allows it to function properly. Corticosteroids have been shown to help relieve pain and allow patients to open their mouths more widely, ensuring better quality of life.
- Surgical Intervention
Surgical intervention is not needed in most cases of TMJ. However, there are a number of options for treating your condition. These range from arthrocentesis, which uses tiny needles to irrigate the joint and remove inflammatory byproducts and debris, to arthroscopic and open-joint surgeries, which attempt to repair the joint directly.
Surgery is typically a last resort for most TMJ cases. If your doctor does recommend surgery, make sure you understand all of the risks and the pros and cons. You may even want to get a second opinion, to make sure that you’re getting the right treatment for your TMJ.
Know Your Treatment Options – And Work With Your Doctor To Get Relief From TMJ!
This is just a short list of treatment options for TMJ. For more information, and to learn more about other potential treatments, we recommend you consult with an experienced oral and maxillofacial surgeon right away. You’re sure to get the help you need, and get relief from the pain and discomfort of TMJ!