TMJ stands for the temporomandibular joint that connects the jaw bone to the skull. For most people, the TMJ moves freely with very little problem. However, it is not uncommon to experience problems involving this joint due to age, medical issues and trauma. Usually, a patient with TMJ disorder will experience pain while chewing that is associated with a popping or clicking in the jaw. If left untreated, TMJ disorder can cause pain or ringing in the ear, headaches, and even locked jaw where the jaw itself can’t open or close fully.
What is TMJ Treatment?
TMJ treatment varies from one patient to another. Some people have minor problems involving this joint while others require surgery or more invasive treatment options. For those whose symptoms do not require surgery, treatments involved concerning the temporomandibular joint include:
- Anti-inflammatory pain medication
- Physical therapy
- Alternative health
- Steroid injections
- Muscle relaxers
- Heat/Ice therapy
Patients can also receive relief through changing daily habits. It is recommended that you:
- Don’t chew gum
- Eat soft foods
- Cut food into smaller pieces
- Learn to manage your stress, so it doesn’t cause you to clench or grind teeth
- Stretch your jaw regularly
- Be aware of activities that may strain your head or neck muscles
- Night guards that are custom fitted to prevent grinding or clenching at night
Surgical procedure for TMJ disorder
When changing your daily habits or doing non-invasive surgery does not work, our dentists recommend doing surgery on the Temporomandibular joint to relieve the patient from the pain associated with TMJ disorder. There are a few different types of surgical procedures that our team of specialists will help determine which method is best for your specific needs to help alleviate the pain that include:
- is a minimally invasive, outpatient procedure that involves the insertion of small needles into the joint so that fluid can be irrigated through the joint to remove debris causing inflammation. This helps to also lubricate the joint and reduce friction.
- In some people, corticosteroid injections into the joint may be helpful. Infrequently, injecting botulinum toxin type A (Botox, others) into the jaw muscles used for chewing may relieve pain associated with TMJ disorders.
- TMJ arthroscopy.In some cases, arthroscopic surgery can be as effective for treating various types of TMJ disorders as open-joint surgery. A small thin tube (cannula) is placed into the joint space, an arthroscope is then inserted, and small surgical instruments are used for surgery. TMJ arthroscopy has fewer risks and complications than open-joint surgery does, but it has some limitations as well.
- Modified condylotomy addresses the TMJ indirectly, with surgery on the mandible, or jaw, but not in the joint itself. It may be helpful for treatment of pain and if locking is experienced.
- Open-joint surgery.If your jaw pain does not resolve with more-conservative treatments and it appears to be caused by a structural problem in the joint, your doctor or dentist may suggest open-joint surgery to repair or replace the joint. However, open-joint surgery involves more risks than other procedures do and should be considered very carefully, after discussing the pros and cons.
- Disc repositioning: This more complex procedure is used in cases when the TMJ’s cushioning disc is out of place. The doctor puts the disc back where it goes and secures it in place with a stitch. Expect a hospital stay with this one.
- Discectomy: In this surgery, the doctor removes the cushioning disc from the joint. The jaw may need to be wired shut. This procedure requires a hospital stay and involves a long recovery period because the body has to replace the cushioning.
- Joint replacement: This extensive and invasive surgery can involve reshaping the ball inside the joint, removing diseased bone, or using prosthetics to replace portions of the jaw. The jaw has to be wired shut to allow for healing. Recovery time can be a month or even longer, and you will likely face food restrictions for the rest of your life.
Why would treatment be needed?
Upon coming into the office with Temporomandibular joint problems, our doctors will examine the area and ask you to open and close your mouth as wide as you possibly can. We will listen to any noises that might come from the joint when you’re doing this, as well as inspecting to see if the joint causes you any pain. Imaging may be required to look for underlying problems or to see the extent of the joint issue. Once it is found that you could benefit from TMJ treatment, we will discuss with you the variety of options available according to your needs, goals and what you are able to easily afford. Our goal here at Ramona Dental Group is to help you with any discomfort and pain that you’re experiencing concerning the Temporomandibular joint. This is why we work with patients of all ages to provide quality care so that they can live life to the fullest without constant joint pain.
If you are in need of TMJ treatment, contact us today and one of our helpful staff members will be happy to assist you further!