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TMJ Disorder Treatment

Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder is a type of jaw disorder that affects both the jaw joint and the muscles that control the jaw. Conditions involving TMJ can be difficult to diagnose and due to the complex nature of the joint. The TMJ Association, Ltd., estimates that more than 35 million people are affected by TMJ dysfunction within the United States. If you suffer from chronic jaw pain, headaches, or clicking in the jaw joint, contact a dentist in Orlando, FL, with Thornton Park Dental Arts to schedule a dentist appointment for TMJ treatment.

What Is TMJ?

The temporomandibular joint, or TMJ, is located at the base of the skull and is responsible for the movement required both for chewing, talking, and yawning. The TMJ connects the mandible — the lower jaw — and the temporal bone, which is located on the side of the skull. This joint is considered to be among the most complex joints in the human body, as it allows for movement of the mouth and jaw in multiple directions, including up and down as well as left and right. The complexity of the joint can make the process of treating severe TMJ disorders more difficult.

What Is TMJ Disorder?

Temporomandibular joint disorder — a type of temporomandibular disorder or TMD — can cause pain in the jaw joint as well as in the muscles that control jaw movement. In addition to painful side effects, TMJ disorder can likewise increase the risk of developing serious health conditions. These symptoms occur when the joints of the jaw and the chewing muscles work together improperly and they may result due to a wide range of reasons, from physical injuries and health conditions to personal habits and infections.

Signs Of TMJ Disorder

Temporomandibular joint dysfunction often causes severe pain and discomfort, which may either be temporary or last for years, and it may affect one or both sides of the face. This condition is most common among individuals between the ages of 20 and 40, but it may occur at any point throughout life. Women are more likely than men to experience these disorders. Common symptoms of TMJ disorder include the following. Contact our dentist office in Orlando for more information about TMD symptoms or to schedule TMJ treatment.

  • Tooth decay
  • Dental damage
  • Neck and shoulder pain
  • Limited opening of the mouth
  • Clicking or popping jaw sounds

What Causes TMJ Dysfunction?

The temporomandibular joint combines sliding motions with a hinge action. The parts of the bones that interact within the joint are covered with cartilage and are separated by a tiny disk that absorbs shocks — this temporomandibular joint anatomy is designed to keep the movement of the mouth, jaw, and other parts smooth and without pain. Temporomandibular dysfunction may be caused due to teeth grinding, which puts pressure on the joint, or stress, which can result in tightening of the facial and jaw muscles or clench the teeth.

TMJ dysfunction may likewise occur if the disk erodes or moved out from proper alignment, the cartilage that covers the joint becomes damaged by arthritis, or if the joint is damaged by a jaw injury or impact. In many cases, the exact cause of TMJ dysfunction is unknown, as the condition may be due to a combination of causes. The best way to determine whether you have TMD is with the help of our Orlando dentists. Call our office today to schedule an appointment.

How Is TMJ Disorder Diagnosed?

Determining the exact cause or causes of temporomandibular joint pain can be difficult, yet proper TMJ diagnosis is key to successful treatment. To achieve a precise diagnosis, our dentists conduct a thorough head and neck examination. During the examination, the dentist will listen to and feel the jaw as the patient opens and closes their mouth, observe the range of motion in the jaw, and press on areas around the jaw to identify locations of pain or discomfort. Thereafter, the dentist will take a dental X-ray to more thoroughly examine the teeth and jaw. The patient’s noted symptoms will also be recorded during the appointment and the dentist will combine this with the results of the examination to make a determination regarding the cause of the patient’s TMJ pain.

Who Should Consider TMJ Pain Treatment?

Our dentists typically recommend TMJ pain treatment to patients that do not respond to home remedies, such as dentist-recommended self-care techniques, which can either reduce or help eliminate symptoms. We also commonly recommend treatment to patients that experience lockjaw, or the inability to move or open the jaw, as well as difficulty with chewing or speaking properly, as well as popping or clicking in the jaw joint, and an aching sensation around the face. For severe cases of TMD, surgical treatment may be required — patients must be in good general health to qualify for surgical treatment of the temporomandibular joint. Contact our dentist office today to schedule an appointment.

Benefits Of TMJ Treatment

Treating TMD can drastically improve your daily life. Through professional treatment, patients can find relief from painful symptoms, such as headaches, jaw pain, facial discomfort, and clicking or popping sounds. Additionally, treating TMD can help prevent harm to your overall oral health. When your jaw is improperly aligned, a variety of issues can occur — from chipped or worn teeth to severe joint damage. Realigning the jaw can serve to prevent long-term damage and help patients avoid the requirement for additional or repeated procedures in the future. Finally, TMJ pain relief can enhance the overall quality of day-to-day life. Contact us today for more information or learn how jaw pain treatment can benefit you!

Types Of TMJ Treatment

In certain cases, the symptoms of TMJ disorder may dissipate without the need for treatment. If the symptoms persist, however, a TMJ specialist with our practice may recommend a variety of treatment options — treatment plans may comprise multiple types of treatment performed in conjunction with one another in order to ensure the treatment’s effectiveness.

TMJ Medications

One of the most common treatment options for patients with TMJ disorder is medication prescribed to help relieve jaw, face, and neck-related pain. The following medications may be prescribed or recommended during one or multiple steps of TMJ treatment.

  • Over-the-counter pain relievers
  • Prescribed pain relievers
  • Anti-inflammatories
  • Muscle relaxants

TMJ Therapies

Non-drug-related therapies for treating jaw disorders include the use of a mouth guard — a type of TMJ appliance custom-made to match the exact shape and depth of the teeth and used to prevent teeth grinding or clenching, especially during sleep. Along with dental appliances, other therapies include physical therapy, during which the patient’s jaw muscles are stretched and strengthened through various exercises performed by a physical therapist.

Dental laser therapy is a minimally invasive treatment performed by our dentists to help patients reduce pain and inflammation, resulting in an improved range of motion with regard to opening and moving the jaw and neck. In addition to these therapies, patients may also be provided with tips for self-care to help reduce movement of the jaw, including avoiding chewing gum, eating only soft foods, preventing tensing or clenching the jaw.

TMJ Surgery

When conservative treatment options do not achieve the intended result, TMJ surgery may be necessary. Surgical treatment is also recommended for cases in which there are existing pathological conditions within the joint that can only be corrected with direct access. When properly performed by a skilled surgeon, TMD surgery can eliminate pain and restore proper function to the jaw, as well as the components comprised therein. The three types of TMJ TMD surgical treatments are arthrocentesis, arthroscopy, and arthroplasty.

Arthroscopy

Arthroscopy is a surgical procedure performed with an arthroscope — a special tool with a lens and light that allows the dentist to see inside of the joint. A small, thin tube (cannula) is placed into the joint space, and the arthroscope is inserted thereafter. Inflamed tissue may be removed and the disc or joint may be realigned if necessary. This surgery typically leaves a minimal scar, has fewer complications, and requires a shorter recovery than other types of procedures.

Arthrotomy

If the jaw pain does not resolve with more conservative options for treatment, and the cause of the jaw issues appears to be structural in nature, open-joint surgery — or arthrotomy — may be necessary. This procedure is performed to repair or replace the joint. Of the three types of surgery, arthrotomy is the most invasive and requires a longer recovery period following the procedure. In addition, this procedure poses greater risk of scarring and nerve injury.

Arthrocentesis

Arthrocentesis is a minimally invasive procedure that involves the insertion of small needles into the joint through which excess fluid can drain in order to remove debris and inflammatory byproducts located within the joint and jaw. If an additional abnormality is observed during treatment, a special tool may be used to remove damaged tissue, dislodge a disc that has become lodged within the joint, or reposition the joint itself.

Dental Appliance For Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea and TMJ disorder tend to go hand-in-hand — originating from misalignments in the jaw and obstructions in the airway, sleep apnea is a serious medical condition that prevents an individual from properly breathing as they sleep. These pauses in breathing and loud bouts of snoring can leave a person feeling tired even after a full night of sleep and can even lead to dangerous medical disorders, including increases in blood pressure, and lack of oxygen to the lungs, among others. In order to help patients sleep through the night, oral appliance therapy can be utilized to help separate the jaws and push them forward, repositioning the tongue and other soft tissues found inside of the mouth. By fitting a patient with a properly-sized oral appliance for sleep apnea, proper airflow can be restored, and they can once again sleep peacefully through the night.
Watch Video About Obstructive Sleep Apnea

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