Temporomandibular Joint Disorders (TMJ) Treatment in Grand Prairie

The temporomandibular joint is the hinge between your jawbone and temporal bone of the skull. This joint allows you to move your jaw up and down and sideways during activities like chewing, talking and yawning. Problems associated with this joint (the bones and muscles associated with this joint) are referred to as temporomandibular joint disorder or TMJ.

TMJ disorders

What causes TMJ disorders?

Scientific studies are trying to elucidate the exact reason behind TMJ disorders but no conclusion has yet been reached. However, dentists consider some of the following reasons as the root cause of TMJ disorders:

  • An injury to the jaw or the associated muscles like a heavy blow on the face may lead to serious TMJ disorders.
  • A displacement of the bones of the joint or the disc between the ball and socket of the joint.
  • Arthritis affecting the TMJ.
  • Clenching or grinding teeth with excessive force can deal injuries to the joint bones and muscles.
  • Repeated episodes of stress leading to the tightening of jaw muscles and clenching of teeth may lead to problems in the TMJ in the long run.

How do you know if you have a TMJ disorder?

TMJ disorders are extremely painful and may be chronic or acute depending on the cause and nature of the disorder. Women are more likely to suffer from these disorders and the disorder typically affects people within the age range of 20 to 40. The common symptoms of the TMJ disorders are:

  • A strong feeling of pain and tenderness experienced in the face, jawbone, neck, shoulders and around the ears while performing daily activities like chewing, swallowing, talking or yawning.
  • Facial muscles feeling fatigued all the time.
  • When attempting to open or close the mouth, jaws tend to get locked in the open or closed position.
  • Unusual noises similar to clicking or grating sounds produced when chewing.
  • Trouble while eating as the upper and lower set of teeth may not fit together properly when closing the mouth.
  • Facial swelling.
  • Toothaches, headaches, shoulder and neck pain, earaches and hearing problems may accompany TMJ disorders.

How are TMJ disorders Diagnosed?

Certain diseases like arthritis of the joints, tooth decay, periodontitis, sinus problems may have overlapping symptoms with TMJ disorders. To distinguish the difference between TMJ and other disorders, dentists will perform the following routine procedure:

  • Discuss your medical history and conduct a physical examination to find out what is wrong with you.
  • Your dentist will examine the functionality of your jaws and check your jaws for clicking or grating sounds when you move them. You may be also asked to perform bite tests.
  • To confirm the nature of the TMJ disorder, your dentist may ask you to perform X-ray, MRI or CT scans. These techniques provide a clear picture of your facial bones and any mishaps in your jawbones, muscles or join can be easily visualized in the images obtained as a result of these tests.
  • Your dentist may then refer you to a more specialized clinician like an oral or maxillofacial surgeon or an orthodontist who will take care of your problem using their specialized skills and knowledge in the subject.

What can you do at home to get some relief from the symptoms of TMJ disorders?

Even though dentists and specialized clinicians are the only people who will be able to cure you from TMJ disorders, there are a number of things you can do at home to alleviate your symptoms for a while. Speak to your dentist before trying out these remedies at home:

  • Medications: Over the counter pain medications like non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs may help decrease the pain associated with TMJ disorders.
  • Heat and cold packs: Apply an ice pack to the affected area followed by application of a warm towel or washcloth to the same area. Repeat the alternating hot and cold packs several times over several days.
  • Change in diet: You need to bring a change in what you eat to avoid hurting your jaws further. Have food that has a soft texture like yogurt, scrambled eggs, mashed potatoes, boiled rice with well cooked vegetables, etc or take liquid foods like soups, stews and juices. Chop food to small pieces before cooking. Ensure that you avoid food that involve a great amount of chewing, biting or grinding like caramels, raw vegetables, nuts, meat, etc.
  • Jaw movements: Do not perform movements of the jaw that subject it to higher stress. Do not shout or sing loudly, yawn with a wide mouth or chew chewing gums to avoid hurting your jaw.
  • Teeth clenching and grinding movements: Completely avoid clenching your teeth even when angry as this can hurt your TMJ badly.
  • Stay calm: Reduction of stress levels with the help of meditation or yoga will help keep your mind calm and jaw muscles relaxed.

Treatment of TMJ disorders

  • Medications: NSAID’s may help alleviate the pain associated with TMJ disorders. Muscle relaxants are also helpful to relax your jaw muscles during stressful periods. Chronic TMJ disorder may also lead to depression and other psychological problems and can be combated with antidepressants.
  • Mouth guards: You can wear mouth guards over your upper and lower set of teeth to prevent your teeth from grinding or clenching against each other while sleeping or during the day.
  • Dental modifications: Your dentist also may make certain modifications to your dental structure and organization like setting new crowns, braces or bridges to align your teeth as close as possible to the normal settings.
  • TENS or transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation: Low level electrical pulses are delivered to the affected area to relax the muscles and bring some relief from pain.
  • Laser therapy: This helps reduce pain and inflammation.
  • Trigger point injections: Anaesthetics are injected into the facial muscles to numb the muscles and decrease pain.
  • Surgery: A permanent solution to TMJ disorders often ends with a surgery. Arthrocentesis is a minimally invasive surgical procedure where needles will be inserted through your facial skin to make way for draining out the damaged tissues from the affected area. Open joint surgery: If your TMJ disorder is too complex to be handled with arthroscopy, you will need an open joint surgery to correct your disorder.

If you think you have the symptoms of TMJ disorder, contact the team at Affordable Dentist in Grand Prairie today at 817-200-7086 to book and appointment with the experts to discuss the steps you need to take to improve your condition.