Treatments For TMJ: What Works Best?
Effective Treatments for TMJ Disorders
According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, up to 12% of Americans experience temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder symptoms.
That's a significant number of people dealing with jaw and facial pain on a daily basis. But the good news is that effective treatments are available to help manage these symptoms and improve your quality of life. In this article, we'll explore the best treatments for TMJ disorder, so you can find relief and get back to living your best life.
Breaking Down TMJ Disorder
TMJ disorder occurs when pain or dysfunction exists in the temporomandibular joint and its surrounding muscles. This joint is responsible for the movement of your jaw when you talk, chew, and yawn. This condition can cause discomfort, pain, and difficulty with everyday activities like eating and talking.
TREATMENTS FOR TMJ
Medications are a standard treatment option for TMJ disorder. There are a few different OTC pain relief medications that can help reduce pain & inflammation caused by TMJ disorder. These kind of medications include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as:
- Motrin (ibuprofen )
- Naprosyn (naproxen)
- Tylenol (acetaminophen)
Commonly Used Prescription Medications
Muscle relaxants may also be prescribed to help ease muscle tension in the jaw. In some cases, tricyclic antidepressants and anticonvulsant medications can be used to help manage chronic pain associated with TMJ disorder. These medications work by altering the way the brain perceives pain signals.Medications Have Side Effects
While medications can help alleviate the TMJ symptoms, it should not be the first treatment step when dealing with TMJ. This is because medication only provides temporary relief and can have negative side effects on your overall health.
- NSAIDs can have uncomfortable side effects, such as stomach irritation or even bleeding!
- Muscle relaxants & other prescription medications may interact with other medicines or medical conditions.
The issue with most of these medications is that rather than treating your TMJ they either masking the pain or temporarily reducing the problem. While NSAIDs can reduce inflammation your TMJ will return after the 4 or 6 hours and you will either have to take more medication or deal with the pain. Unfortunately, these medications simply do not address the underlying cause of your TMD.
If non-surgical options do not provide relief, your doctor may recommend corticosteroid injections. These injections deliver a powerful anti-inflammatory medication directly to the affected joint to reduce inflammation and pain. However, corticosteroid injections are not a long-term solution and should be used sparingly. Here’s what you need to know about Corticosteroid injections:
- Corticosteroid injections are a treatment option for TMJ disorder that delivers anti-inflammatory medication directly to the affected joint to reduce inflammation and pain.
- This treatment is usually recommended when other non-surgical options do not provide relief.
- Corticosteroid injections are also not a long-term solution and should be used sparingly.
- Risks associated with corticosteroid injections include infection, nerve damage, and joint damage.
- According to the American Academy of Oral Medicine, corticosteroid injections effectively reduce pain and improve function in patients with TMJ disorder. However, the benefits may be temporary, and repeated injections may be necessary.
- Your healthcare professional will assess your specific case and determine if corticosteroid injections are a suitable treatment option for you.
Surgery is a less common treatment option for TMJ disorder and is typically reserved for severe cases where other treatments have been ineffective. Depending on the specific case, a few different surgical procedures may be recommended, including arthrocentesis, arthroscopy, and open-joint surgery.
Arthrocentesis involves inserting needles into the joint to irrigate and remove debris and can help reduce inflammation and pain. Arthroscopy is a minimally invasive procedure with a small camera inserted into the joint to evaluate and treat damage. Open-joint surgery involves making a larger incision to access and repair the joint.
- While surgery can be effective for some individuals, it carries risks and potential complications. Recovery time can also vary depending on the type of surgery performed. A healthcare professional can provide more information about the risks and benefits of surgery for TMJ disorder.
Non-surgical options are often the first line of treatment for TMJ disorders. These options include over-the-counter pain relievers such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), muscle relaxants, physical therapy, and lifestyle changes like avoiding hard and chewy foods and practicing good posture. While these options may not provide immediate relief, they can help you manage symptoms over time. Your healthcare professional will assess your case and recommend the best non-surgical options. Here’s a look at the various non-surgical options available for the treatment of TMJ disorders:
- Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs): Over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen or naproxen can help reduce pain and inflammation in the jaw muscles.
- Muscle Relaxants: Your doctor may prescribe a muscle relaxant to help relieve tension in the jaw muscles and improve your range of motion.
- Physical Therapy: A physical therapist can teach you exercises to help relax your jaw muscles and improve your posture. They may also use heat or cold therapy to reduce inflammation and pain.
- Mouthguards/ Night Guards: If you’re wondering do mouthguards help with TMJ, then the answer is yes. Custom-fit mouthguards can help reduce the impact of teeth grinding and clenching, common causes of TMJ disorder. Mouthguards can also help to relax your jaw muscles and reduce pain.
Bite Splints, Occlusal TMJ Splints, and Other Kinds of Splints
Splints, also known as oral appliances, are a common non-surgical treatment option for TMJ disorder. These are custom-made plastic devices (similar to night guards). Splints fit over your teeth and are worn in your mouth to help stabilize your jaw and alleviate pain.
Here are some key points to keep in mind about splints as one of the best treatments for TMJ disorders:
- Types of Splints: There are several types of splints available, including occlusal splints designed to help balance the way your teeth come together, and mandibular advancement devices, which hold your lower jaw in a slightly forward position to relieve pressure on the joint.
- How they work: Similar to night guards, splints are known to redistribute the forces in your mouth. This helps reduce pressure on the temporomandibular joint. They can also help prevent teeth grinding and clenching, which can worsen TMJ disorder symptoms.
- Effectiveness: Splints can be an effective treatment option for many people with TMJ disorder, but their effectiveness may vary depending on your condition's severity and underlying causes.
Since bruxism is the most common contributing factor to TMJ Disorder (TMD) night guards are often more effective than splints. Night guards are the best treatment option for TMJ especially when bruxism is the root cause.
Overall, splints and night guards are non-invasive, conservative treatment options for TMJ disorder that can help alleviate symptoms and improve the quality of life for many people.
If you think you may benefit from a splint, or night guard ClearClub offers dental grade custom fitting night guards for TMJ Disorder. simply click the shop now button below to find the perfect night guard for you!
THREE EASY STEPS
We send you a dental impression kit. You mail the kit back to us. And we begin making your custom-made night guard that will reach you in no time! The best part? Night guards come at super-affordable prices starting at just $95! Not the crazy expensive prices you see at the dentist office.
Other Treatments for TMJ Disorders
In addition to medications, splints, and surgery, several other treatments may be recommended to manage TMJ disorder symptoms. These include:
- Physical Therapy: Exercises and stretches to strengthen the jaw muscles and improve the range of motion can help manage TMJ disorder symptoms. A physical therapist or specialized dentist can guide patients with appropriate exercises.
- Relaxation Techniques: Stress and tension can worsen TMJ disorder symptoms. Relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, and yoga can help reduce stress and tension in the jaw muscles.
- Heat or Cold Therapy: Applying heat or cold to the affected joint can help reduce inflammation and alleviate pain.
- Lifestyle Changes: Avoiding hard or chewy foods, practicing good posture, and reducing stress can help manage TMJ disorder symptoms.
- Acupuncture: This traditional Chinese medicine technique involves inserting fine needles into specific points on the body to relieve pain and improve function. While research on the effectiveness of acupuncture for TMJ disorder is limited, some people find it helpful.
- Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS): This therapy involves applying a small electrical current to the affected joint to relieve pain and reduce muscle tension.
Although some people may find relief from combining these treatments others may require more invasive interventions such as surgery. However, the best and most effective first step in treating TMJ is most commonly utilizing a custom made night guard.
Take Control of Your TMJ Pain
TMJ disorder can be a challenging condition to deal with, but effective treatments are available to help manage your symptoms and improve your quality of life. From nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to physical therapy and mouthguards, there are many options to explore with your healthcare professional.
Remember to practice good habits like relaxing your jaw, avoiding hard and chewy foods, and seeking treatment. Don't let TMJ disorder control your life – take action today to find relief by ordering a custom made night guard!
CLEARCLUB'S CUSTOM NIGHT GUARDS FOR TMD
If you're looking for a solution to help manage your TMJ pain, ClearClub's custom-fit night guards are an affordable yet effective solution.
Our night guards are designed to help alleviate symptoms and promote the relaxation of the jaw muscles.
Learn more about our custom-fit night guards to see how they can help you manage your TMJ pain.
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You can also take our Quiz to find the right night guard for you – we're here to help you find the perfect solution for your needs.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is TMJ treatment?
TMJ treatment refers to the various methods used to alleviate TMJ disorders. The treatment approach can vary depending on the severity of the disorder and the underlying causes.
Can TMJ go away on it's own?
In some cases, TMJ symptoms may go away on their own without specific TMJ treatment. This is particularly true for mild cases of TMJ that are caused by temporary factors such as stress or overuse of the jaw. However, if the TMJ disorder is caused by a structural issue, such as a misaligned bite, or a more serious underlying condition, such as arthritis, it is unlikely to resolve on its own and may even worsen over time. Click to find out more about How TMJ is Treated in our previous blog post.
Do mouth guards help with TMJ disorders?
Yes, mouth guards can be helpful in alleviating TMJ symptoms.
- Mouth guards can help reposition the jaw to a more comfortable and stable position, which can alleviate pain and discomfort in the TMJ.
- Mouth guards work by preventing the teeth from touching, which can help reduce the amount of pressure on the jaw joint and the surrounding muscles.
- Proper fitting and adjustment of the mouth guard are important for maximum effectiveness and comfort.