Temporomandibular joint disorder, or TMJ, is a painful and often misunderstood and misdiagnosed problem. Most patients who finally receive the correct diagnosis are relieved to know what it is, but at a loss for how to treat it. It cannot be cured without extensive surgery to the facial bones, muscles, and skull, and even that is not a guarantee. Instead, you might want to try one of the following three TMJ treatments, provided courtesy of your friendly neighborhood dentist.
Anti-bruxism mouthguards are typically constructed by your dentist for the purpose of stopping nightly teeth-grinding. However, they are also effective for treating TMJ symptoms, because they help your facial muscles relax instead of tighten up while you sleep. You are less likely to wake up feeling like someone hit you with a baseball bat in your sleep when you use these custom mouthguards at night. Your dentist may even add a little "height" to the mouthguards to prevent you from clenching your jaws so hard your TM joints pop.
If you are not afraid of needles, and your dentist is licensed to administer Botox injections, you can try this method. Not only does it relax the muscles surrounding your temporomandibular joints, but it may also have the pleasant side effect of a facial "pick-me-up." It is not a commonly practiced and administered treatment, so be sure to ask your dentist if he or she can and is willing to give you Botox for your TMJ.
Arthroscopy and Arthroscopic Surgery
Taken from the latin words, "arthro", meaning "joint" and "scopy" meaning to scope out or look, an arthroscopy can be done in a dental office that has some basic surgical equipment. Your dentist will "scope" your TMJs and see if there is any tissue or bone that could be surgically removed, cut or altered so that you could experience less discomfort, pain or other issues. If it is possible to perform a procedure that would be helpful, your dentist can use the incisions from the arthroscope and the arthroscope instruments to aid in the surgical procedure so that you do not have to return for any additional surgeries or incur additional incisions and scar tissue.
Other Methods, and Why You May Have to Try Them All
There are multiple treatment options for TMJ, but you may not have to try more than one or two. Other patients may have to try all of them before finally finding the one that helps. It depends upon your insurance and which treatments you would prefer over others (e.g., non-invasive versus major surgical, medicinal versus appliance, etc.). Both your general physician and your dentist can help you find the treatment that works best for you and provides you with the most long-lasting comfort.
Contact a dental office like Panther Hollow Dental Lodge to learn more.