One of the worst dental disorders that you can experience is temporomandibular joint disorder or TMJ. This disorder affects the sliding hinge connecting your jawbone to your skull, causing pain and discomfort in the muscles that control your jaws’ movement. Most of the time, you’ll need intervention from your family dentist to address this issue.
If you’re one of those people who are experiencing pain around your jaws and teeth, you may be dealing with a TMJ disorder. In this article, we’ll guide you through the symptoms, how it’s examined, the treatments you can take, and how to deal with it. Let’s begin!
Symptoms and Diagnosis
When you visit your family dentist and suspect that you have TMJ disorder, they will examine your current symptoms and your jaw. Usually, your dentist will listen to and feel your jaw as you open and close your mouth. Besides that, they’ll observe the range of motion of your jaw and press on areas around it to spot sites of pain and discomfort.
Once your dentist observes an evident problem, you are required to undergo dental x-ray so they can examine the areas around your jaw and teeth. An alternative to that method is a CT scan or MRI, which can provide an even more detailed image of your bones, joints, and the surrounding soft tissues.
But a more focused procedure to identify TMJ disorders is a TMJ arthroscopy. This procedure will help diagnose the condition by inserting a small thin tube and camera to clearly view the area.
Treatments: Medication and Therapy
In some cases, TMJ disorder symptoms may go away without any treatment. However, if your symptoms persist and there is much pain and discomfort, your dentist may recommend various treatments that you can try.
Most patients and dentists will opt for a non-surgical treatment to relieve the pain associated with TMJ disorders. Medications, such as pain relievers, muscle relaxants, and anti-inflammatories, are ranked high on the list of treatments, alongside tricyclic antidepressants.
Dentists will often prescribe strong pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medications if over-the-counter medicines aren’t enough to relieve you from the pain. These are usually prescription-strength ibuprofen and must be taken as prescribed by your dentist.
On the other hand, tricyclic antidepressants are prescribed in low doses and are used for pain relief, bruxism control, and if you have trouble sleeping. Meanwhile, muscle relaxants are recommended when dealing with muscle spasms due to your TMJ disorder.
If medications and surgeries are not in the books for you, you can opt for physical therapy to relieve you from pain.
Oral splints or mouth guards are soft or firm devices that help cushion your jaw and help align and relieve your jaw from discomfort. Besides that, physical therapy, such as jaw strengthening through exercises and stretches, may help.
For severe TMJ cases, your dentist may recommend a more invasive approach.
Arthrocentesis is a type of procedure that isn’t too invasive. It involves inserting small needles into the joints of your jaws to help excavate debris and inflammatory products through irrigation.
Another type of surgery that helps TMJ disorders is a modified condylotomy. This type of surgery targets the mandible and not the joint itself, which helps if you’ve been experiencing your jaw locking.
However, if your jaw pain doesn’t resolve with these treatments, it appears that your joints may be experiencing structural problems. With that, your dentist may suggest an open-joint surgery to replace or repair your joints.
This type of surgery involves more risks, and you should discuss the pros and cons of this procedure with your dentist.
TMJ disorders can range from mild to severe cases; this is why it’s important that you immediately visit your family dentist should you experience any of the symptoms mentioned above. With the right treatment and proper medications, you’ll be relieved of the pain and discomfort associated with TMJ disorders.
Are you looking for a family dentist in Mansfield, TX? Ivy Rose Family Dentistry is a dental office that specializes in restorative and cosmetic dentistry. We provide expert dental services, such as exams and cleaning, dental implants, TMJ treatments, teeth whitening and alignment, and more. Book an appointment with us today!