Lasting TMD Relief With Effective TMJ Treatment
Your jawbone is the largest and strongest bone in your face and it’s constantly helping you do important, everyday things like eating, speaking, and smiling. When your jawbone or the muscles connected to your jawbone experience issues that cause pain and or dysfunction, it’s referred to as temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD).
TMD may or may not go away on its own. However, if these issues don’t go away on their own, they can get worse, hindering your ability to use your jaw and live a quality life. That’s why the Belvidere dentists at Chapko & Shah Modern Dentistry offer TMJ treatment as a solution. Keep reading to learn more about the temporomandibular joints, common causes and symptoms of TMD, and how we can help alleviate symptoms.
What Are The Temporomandibular Joints?
The temporomandibular joints are the joints and muscle tendons that connect your jaw to your skull. While the jawbone does not move or flex, the temporomandibular joints do, allowing you to move your jaw. However, these joints are not immune to excess stress or damage, which can cause problems such as TMD to arise.
Causes of TMD
Common causes of TMD include:
- Bruxism (teeth grinding/clenching)
- Trauma to the face or jaw
- Misaligned bite
- Dislocation of the TMJ joints
Symptoms of TMD
TMD affects not only your jaw, but it can also go on to affect every part of your face, including your ears, and it can even progress beyond your face. Symptoms of TMD may include:
- Headaches / Migraines due to overworked postural muscles in the jaw
- Pain in the face, jaw joint, and/or the ear
- Neck/shoulder/back pain
- Jaw locking when the jaw is open or closed (Tetanus)
- Facial swelling
- Worn or cracked teeth
- Uncomfortable bite
- Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
- Clicking or popping in the jaw
- Restricted ability or complete inability to open the mouth without pain
- Sensitive, sore, and loose teeth
- Depression due to chronic pain
- Numbness or tingling of hands or arms caused by muscle spasms
- Excessive snoring or sleep apnea due to changes in jaw position
- Bad posture
These symptoms can range from slightly annoying to severe and even debilitating. Most people try to treat TMD with ice packs and pain medication, but these methods may fail to treat the root causes. That’s why our Belvidere dental professionals highly recommend you visit Chapko & Shah Modern Dentistry for accurate diagnosis and effective treatment.
TMJ treatment, also called TMJ therapy, refers to the tools and techniques your dentists may use to correct issues caused by TMD. Because there are so many different causes of TMD, treatment options range from the physical to the emotionally therapeutic. Your Belvidere dentists will tailor your treatment to address the issue at its core using a method called neuromuscular dentistry.
What Is Neuromuscular Dentistry?
Neuromuscular dentistry focuses on correcting jaw alignment by solving issues with the functional system that allows you to chew, swallow, and speak. Simultaneously, it involves diagnosing disorders related to the jaw or jaw muscles. Basically, neuromuscular dentistry means our dental professionals will take into account every aspect of your health that may be affecting your jaw, getting to the root of the problem.
Common TMJ Treatments
Oral Appliance Therapy – Oral appliances are custom-made mouthpieces that are worn comfortably in the mouth. These appliances help correct the position of your jaw and prevent your teeth from grinding together. This will reduce excess pressure, allow your jaw to heal, and alleviate symptoms.
Physical Therapy – Our dentists may recommend you to a physical therapist to help alleviate problems with your jaw. Physical therapists evaluate and treat disorders of the body through exercise, stretching, hands-on equipment, and other means.
Mental/Emotional Therapy – Stress, depression, and other mental health issues usually have a high correlation to TMD symptoms. Our Belvidere dentists may recommend you see a therapist, who can help you work through your issues and even prescribe medication that can help improve your mental health, and by extension alleviate your TMD symptoms.
Medication – Over-the-counter or prescribed pain medication may help alleviate pain so you can operate your jaw more normally. Our dentists may also prescribe anti-inflammatory medications to help reduce both pain and swelling and start you on the road to proper healing.
Electrical Muscle Stimulation – Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) is a type of electrical muscle stimulation. The electrical pulses stimulate controlled, minor muscle contractions, essentially making your jaw muscles massage themselves. The generated heat helps relieve pain, possibly resolving symptoms.
Orthodontics – If jaw position is the problem, orthodontics may help. Orthodontic treatment methods such as traditional braces or Invisalign® can correct your bite and jaw position. These methods can help reduce strain on the temporomandibular joints, alleviate bruxism, and promote recovery.
Jaw Surgery – As a last resort, your Belvidere dentist may refer you to an oral surgeon for jaw surgery. Also called orthognathic surgery, this procedure involves making incisions into the jaw to correct issues with the temporomandibular joints and tissues. However, this method is not widely utilized or highly recommended due to the potential for complications, the low success rate, and the highly invasive nature of the procedure.
Frequently Asked Questions
Because of the numerous causes and unpredictable nature of TMD, it’s highly recommended that you visit Chapko & Shah Modern Dentistry at our Belvidere office. Talking to one of our dentists will help ensure that your treatment is effective and that your relief is long-lasting. If you want to control your symptoms in the meantime, we recommend the following:
- Studies conducted for Sage Journals demonstrate that jaw exercises help increase the range of jaw movement and encourage fast recovery. Colgate offers a detailed list of jaw exercises you can do on your own.
- Chew on soft foods or stick to a liquid diet that won’t put a lot of stress on your jaw.
- Avoid chewing gum, biting on anything hard, and biting your lip.
- Practice good posture.
- Avoid large jaw movements such as yawning, yelling, and singing.
- Apply ice or heat in the form of an ice pack or a hot water bottle to alleviate pain and reduce swelling.
Due to the variety of causes and the wide array of symptoms, TMD is considered both a medical and dental problem. That’s why our Belvidere dentists utilize neuromuscular therapy, working in tandem with other medical professionals such as physical and mental therapists to solve the root cause.
It’s important to remember that TMD is unpredictable. Some will see their symptoms go away within a few days to a few months, but some individuals will experience symptoms that persist or even worsen over time, and some will see their symptoms alleviate and return later on. That’s why it’s important to talk to a dental professional like those found at Chapko & Shah Modern Dentistry. Your dentist can help identify the root problem and offer lasting TMD solutions.
Muscle relaxers may work to help alleviate stress and tension in your jaw, controlling if not eliminating symptoms of TMD. However, muscle relaxers are strong medications that affect more than just your jaw and often come with serious side effects. Our Belvidere dentists strongly recommend that patients try less extreme methods before resorting to the use of muscle relaxers for TMJ treatment.