Causes and Treatments of TMJ Disorder

Posted: Jan 13, 2020 in

What is TMJ?

The temporomandibular joint connects your jaw to your skull. When this joint is injured or damaged, it can lead to a localized pain disorder called temporomandibular joint (TMJ) syndrome. The causes of TMJ syndrome are not completely understood. Multiple factors contribute to the muscle tightness and dysfunction that characterize this condition. It is not clear whether some of these causes directly lead to TMJ syndrome or if they are a result of the disorder. Causes of TMJ may include …

  • misalignment of or trauma to the teeth or jaw,
  • teeth grinding (also known as bruxism),
  • stress or anxiety,
  • arthritis and other inflammatory musculoskeletal disorders,
  • orthodontic braces, and
  • excessive gum chewing.

What is the treatment for TMJ syndrome?

Some symptoms of TMJ syndrome can respond well to home remedies or stress reduction and relaxation techniques. Some people find relief of symptoms using the following home remedies:

  • Ice or cold packs to the area of the joint
  • Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen or naproxen, and other pain relievers like including aspirin and acetaminophen
  • Eating soft foods and avoiding chewing gum
  • Massaging or gentle self-stretching of the jaw and neck muscles
  • Relaxation techniques and stress management and reduction

When home remedies are not effective, medical treatment options may be necessary. These may include the following:

  • Dental splint (occlusal splint or stabilization splint or bite guard), which is a dental appliance placed in the mouth that keeps the teeth in alignment and prevents tooth grinding. This resembles a mouth guard and is usually prescribed and fitted by a jaw specialist.
  • Physical therapy with jaw exercises can strengthen muscles, improve flexibility, and range of motion.
  • Trigger point acupuncture can sometimes be helpful.
  • In severe cases, surgery on the jaw or dental surgery may be necessary.
  • TMJ arthroscopy or arthrocentesis is a minimally invasive procedure usually done in an outpatient setting.
  • Sometimes a total joint replacement is needed.
  • Prescription medications
  • Botox: Because Botox® is a quick, relatively painless non-invasive treatment that helps relax muscles and decrease pain, it is used for a variety of oral conditions. Dentists currently use Botox® for conditions such as bruxism, teeth grinding, migraines, TMJ syndrome, jaw pain, headaches, spontaneous/irregular jaw movements, gummy smile, lip enhancements, jawline slimming, establishing ideal lip lines and smile lines for aesthetic dentistry and control of drooling.

At Woodcreek Dental Care, we choose from a variety of therapies for TMD, depending on its causes and severity. Mouthguards can be fitted to prevent damage from teeth grinding. If your TMD is caused by malocclusion, we also offer orthodontic treatment to adjust and balance your bite.

You don’t have to live in pain from untreated TMJ. Visit Woodcreek Dental Care in Calgary for thorough examination and treatment.