Many people believe that dentists only deal with problems pertaining to your teeth and gums. However, we are also able to help patients find solutions for a range of other mouth and jaw related disorders – many of which can also cause symptoms that inhibit the full function of the mouth and teeth. One such solution is known as TMJ therapy.
What is TMJ therapy?
TMJ therapy is a treatment that corrects problems with a part of the jaw known as the TMJ or temporomandibular joint. This joint connects the jaw bone to the temporal bones of the skull, which are located on either side of the head.
If this joint becomes damaged or injured in any way, it can affect the way that the jaw functions. As such, it can cause difficulty in chewing, swallowing, and even speaking.
As many as 30% of adults may experience problems with their TMJ at some point during their lifetime. While some instances may resolve themselves, others may require professional intervention to restore the patient’s jaw function and quality of life.
What causes TMJ disorder?
TMJ disorder can be attributed to a number of factors. These include injury to the jaw, persistent clenching of the jaw or grinding of teeth, a condition known as bruxism when it occurs during sleep, and an uneven bite that places imbalanced pressure on the jaw.
Patients who have osteoarthritis, or other conditions, such as gout or fibromyalgia, may also be at greater risk of developing TMJ disorder.
Symptoms of TMJ disorder
If you are suffering from TMJ disorder, you may experience one or a combination of the following symptoms:
Clicking, popping or grinding noises when you move your jaw
Muscle pain in and around the jaw
Persistent earache, tinnitus, or a sensation of your ear feeling blocked
Pain in the front part of the ear, which may spread to the inner ear, cheek and possibly temple
Swelling of the face and jaw
Struggling to open and close the jaw
Neck or upper back pain
What happens during TMJ therapy?
TMJ therapy is not one specific treatment, but rather a combination of different complementary therapies to alleviate the symptoms and reduce the impact of your condition.
A bad bite is a common cause of TMJ disorder. We are able to examine the position of your jaw to ascertain if improvements can be made to your bite that will alleviate your symptoms. This will help us to determine the best treatment for your needs.
A custom-designed bite guard can prevent you from grinding your teeth during the night, which will reduce a great deal of pressure on your jaw.
Alternatively, it may be necessary to perform realignment surgeries, which will work to adjust the way your upper and low teeth come into contact with one another. The processes involved in this type of TMJ therapy will be completely dependent to your requirements and discussed during your consultation with us.
There are several over-the-counter and prescription medicines that may help to reduce the symptoms associated with TMJ disorder. These include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs), muscle relaxants, anti-depressants and anti-anxiety drugs.
Hot/cold therapy & manual manipulation
Your dentist may also suggest that you try hot or cold therapy and manipulation to improve your TMJ disorder symptoms. Ice packs, heat and gentle manipulation can help to relax the muscles in your jaw, making it easier to move.
Your dentist will also be able to recommend some exercises which can be completed in conjunction with your hot/cold therapy, and should help to reduce pain and stiffness.
At Syracuse Oral Surgery, our TMJ therapies can help alleviate discomfort and preserve dental health in patients with TMJ disorder. To discover more about TMJ therapy, or to book an appointment with one of our professional, reassuring team members, call our office today.