3 Top Solutions for TMJ Pain Relief

If you are suffering from Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder, it can be a real pain. TMJ disorder occurs when the temporomandibular joints, which are located on either side of the back of your jaw and are responsible for the movement of the lower mandible, don’t function properly causing problems when you chew and even speak.

It can be caused by several different things including a bad bite, a bad habit of clenching or grinding your teeth or trauma to the mouth or jaw. Stress is also a common cause, and not just because it can cause you to clench your jaw or grind your teeth. It can also cause you to tighten the muscles in your face and jaw, which further puts pressure on your jaw’s joint and causes you problems. Even arthritis can contribute to TMJ pain.

If you are not sure if TMJ disorder is the source of your jaw pain, look out for these common symptoms:

  • a popping and clicking sound when you open and close your mouth
  • Stiffness in your jaw, the most severe leading to your jaw locking into position
  • Facial swelling around the joint area that is tender to the touch
  • Ringing or pain the ear that is not related to an infection.
  • Chronic headaches or migraines
  • Tooth pain or sensitivity
  • Discomfort in the neck, shoulders and upper back

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms along with jaw pain, then get evaluated by a doctor or dentist as soon as possible. They will do a physical evaluation, pressing on areas around the jaw to see if there is any tenderness or soreness. They might also request a dental x-ray or a CT scan or MRI to get a closer look at what is really going on.

If you do have TMJ disorder, the good news is there are plenty of treatment options. Remember that treatment can vary depending on the severity of the disorder and the root cause.

Here are the 3 top solutions for TMJ pain relief.

The Natural Approach

Taking a more naturalistic approach to treatment includes doing simple muscle exercises and limiting the consumption of hard or chewy foods and using compresses to ease the pain and discomfort.

Medications and Injections

Medications can sometimes help including non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and muscle relaxants. Some people also get relief from corticosteroid injections that can reduce pain and inflammation.

Another option is undergoing arthrocentesis, a procedure where small needle are inserted into the joint to irrigate the joint and get rid of any inflammation.

Orthodontic Solutions

If the underlying issue is a bite issue, than orthodontic treatment like braces can help readjust the alignment and reduce symptoms. You can also wear an occlusal appliance at night, similar to a night guard, to help reposition the jaw and to keep the upper and lower jaw from grinding into one another. When your teeth are realigned, your TMJ should also shift back into its proper place too.

Most common orthodontic treatments include traditional metal braces and Invisalign aligners. Metal braces are permanently adhered to your teeth and can only be taken off by the orthodontist at the end of treatment. During the treatment, the orthodontist tightens the wires to help shift the teeth. With this type of treatment, there are certain food and drink restriction. You may have to wear them for 3 or more years depending on how your treatment goes.

Invisalign aligners are clear plastic aligners that can be easily removed. They can be removed to eat and to brush and floss your teeth. Treatment includes a new set of aligners every two weeks as your teeth shift into proper alignment. Because they are removable, they make it easier to keep your mouth clean and healthy, and an added plus is there are no food restrictions.

Other treatment options include lingual braces that go on the back of your teeth and tooth-colored ceramic braces. While these like Invisalign are less noticeable than the traditional metal braces, they have their own pros and cons.

Not all orthodontists are skilled in lingual braces so you might have to look around for someone who specializes in it. It requires special wire work. Also because when we speak our tongue hits the back of our teeth, you might have a little problem with speech at first until they adjust to the lingual braces. You will need to take extra care brushing and flossing because it is a little more challenging to clean the brackets and wires when they are on the backs of the teeth. With the tooth-colored ceramic braces, you will need to watch what you eat and drink because the brackets might stain more easily.

Keep in mind that if it seems like more a structural problem, you might need open-joint surgery which is a more invasive treatment and longer recovery time.

No matter how you choose to solve your TMJ, it is important to do your research and to consult with a few doctors and orthodontists before making any final decisions. Factors like cost, length of treatment and number of restrictions can all play a role. You need to make the best decision for your overall health.

Just make sure you don’t put off treatment until your condition is a lot more severe. Beside the TMJ getting worse, you will also be at greater risk of cavities and gum disease because it will be more difficult to practice good oral hygiene when you are in a lot of pain.

Want to know more about recognizing and treating TMJ Disorder and how orthodontic treatment can help give TMJ pain relief, consider making an appointment with Dr. Pale, Dr. Gemmi or Dr. Middleberg at Orthodontics Limited to get evaluated. They and their kind and knowledge staff can help determine where or not you do have TMJ disorder and whether orthodontic treatment is the best option for you. They pride themselves on individualized care and state of the art technology. Call Orthodontics Limited today for a free initial consultation.