Your temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the point at which your lower jaw meets your upper jaw. This joint is responsible for the movement of your jaw – opening your mouth, chewing, speaking, moving your lower jaw from side to side.
When you have pain in the jaw and around the joint, a condition known as temporomandibular disorder (TMD), you may find that you have difficulty doing these things. You may have pain in your face, when you chew, even when you yawn. Your jaw may even lock open or closed. Fortunately, there are several treatment options available to help with your TMJ pain.
Sometimes, medication can be enough to ease the symptoms of TMJ pain. You can use over the counter anti-inflammatories and pain relievers. However, if these are not enough, you can talk with your dentist about prescription strength pain relievers.
Your dentist may even prescribe you muscle relaxers, if deemed necessary, but these types of medication are used only for the short term.
If you want to avoid medication and surgery, you may consider a therapeutic option for TMJ pain relief. One option, which is common if you suffer from bruxism (grinding and clenching of the teeth), is an occlusal device or mouth guard.
This device acts as a cushion between your teeth, protecting your joint from stress. Another option for therapeutic treatment is physical therapy, which may involve oral exercises, meant to stretch your jaw as well as strengthen it, in conjunction with ice and heat.
If medication and therapy aren’t enough to ease your TMJ pain, your dentist may suggest oral surgery.
There are a few procedures that can help:
• Corticosteroid injections.
• Arthroscopic surgery. This procedure is used as a less invasive alternative to open joint surgery, and has just as much success.
• Arthrocentesis. This procedure uses small needles to inject fluid into the joint to flush out debris.
• Open joint surgery. This type of surgery is used when there is a structural issue with your jaw. It aims to repair or replace your jaw in an invasive procedure.
If you suffer from TMJ pain, there are treatments available. Contact our office to discuss which will be the best one for you.