If you have been diagnosed with TMD (Temporomandibular Disorder) or have pain associated with your TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint), you have reason to be optimistic that the pain can be managed or even eliminated. There are several treatment options for pain associated with TMD or TMJ. Through therapy, medication, appliance use, or dental restoration, you have many treatment options in Rexburg.
TMD And TMJ Pain
Temporomandibular disorder refers to symptoms of pain and discomfort stemming from the temporomandibular joints. These are the joints or “hinges” that connect your jawbone to your skull. You can feel it near your ears and under your “cheekbones”. Some people develop soreness to severe pain in these joints, which can lead to headaches, earaches, and even damage to the muscles in the jaw which can cause lockjaw. Sometimes people experience a ‘clicking” noise when they open and close the jaw along with the pain. So pain, discomfort, muscle spasms, headaches, and other issues that arise from the TMJ are referred to as TMD. How does this happen? There are a few things that can contribute to TMJ/TMD. Often the pain comes from the muscles, ligaments, and the joint itself being stressed or strained by repetitive jaw movement or by excessive jaw grinding or clenching ( called bruxism). This overworks the jaw and causes pain. Other people who have had surgery or a traumatic event such as a broken jaw can develop TMJ/TMD. Losing teeth, having teeth removed, and any tooth movement can lead to a bad bite (called malocclusion) which can also cause TMJ/TMD. Sometimes the small “pad” of cartilage between the jaw bone and where it attaches to the skull, called the “disk” can degrade or slip, and where the bones grind on each other becomes sore, this is also part of TMD. So there are a lot of ways TMD can develop. You may be diagnosed with TMD by your doctor, or your dentist, or both. As there are many reasons a person can develop TMD/TMJ, you can see how there are also many treatments for TMD/TMJ depending on the underlying reason, to include therapy, medication, and dental restoration.
Treatments For TMD/TMJ Pain
Effective treatments for TMJ/TMD depend on the cause of your TMJ/TMD. The least invasive treatments could include hot and cold packs applied to the face and jaw, physical therapy such as stretching exercises, and possible behavior modifications, such as being mindful of what causes stress and being careful not to clench your teeth or your jaw when you feel stress. These can be helpful for some cases and your doctor or dentist can help you to develop a routine. For problems with the disk between the bones, sometimes medications like steroids or other anti-inflammatory medications can be helpful. These can come in the form of injections, and some people have found relief with injections of a botulinum toxin like Botox, which can relax the jaw. Muscle relaxants and prescription and OTC pain relievers may be discussed as well. Many people have found an appliance, called a splint or mouthguard, to be very helpful. This is a plastic covering for your teeth, usually worn on the top or bottom set of teeth, much like a sports mouthguard. They are specially custom made by your dentist to fit your teeth comfortably. They are made from a hard plastic that can withstand the pressure of your jaw clenching. Mainly worn at night, they relieve pressure from grinding and clenching, which can alleviate TMD pain. They also protect your teeth from cracking or eroding. Some people also wear them during the day. Your restorative dentist in Rexburg can make a nightguard for you and it may be the perfect fix for your TMD/TMJ pain.
Restorative Dentistry For TMJ/TMD In Rexburg
Sometimes TMD can be caused by dental issues, specifically by having a “bad bite”, or malocclusion. This happens when your teeth, for numerous reasons, do not meet correctly when the lower and upper teeth come together, as when you bite down. A bad bite can cause several problems, one of which is TMD. When you have malocclusion, the jaw does not rest where it should, this can cause stress for the jawbone and for the muscles that work with the jaw. This leads to TMD/TMJ in some cases. It can also wear down teeth or cause teeth to break, which can further worsen the bite. A restorative dentist can fix these issues for you fairly easily. If you have missing teeth, your remaining teeth could be “drifting” in the jawbone, and this can lead to a bite issue. A restorative dentist near you can alleviate this problem by fitting you with a bridge to keep the teeth on either side of the missing tooth space from moving any further. When your bite is corrected in this way, stress is taken off of the jawbone. Alternatively, and more permanently, a tooth implant can also remedy this issue. If your teeth are misshapen or have wear due to bruxism, this can also affect your bite. Restorative dentistry can fix this by making crowns that improve the shape of the teeth to enhance the occlusion. Other dental or orthodontic solutions may be to rearrange the teeth with braces or a retainer to gain a better bite. If these dental restoration techniques are not recommended for your TMD/TMJ, there are still some options to consider. If your TMD/TMJ has not been helped by any of the discussed methods, or if your dentist or doctor believes the problem is the jawbone or joints themselves, then surgery may be the only way to correct the TMD. If the joint or joints need to be replaced, you will need an “open joint surgery” to repair or replace one or both of the joints. If the problem is the jawbone itself, you may need a condylotomy, which fixes a problem with the actual jawbone, such as if the bone was broken due to trauma or accident. Surgery is the least likely of the options, and most cases of TMD/TMJ can be resolved without it. However, your doctor or dentist will be able to determine what will be most effective for your specific case. If you are suffering from TMD/TMJ in Rexburg, visit a restorative dentist at Eagle Rock Dental Care to get started on a plan that works for you!