TMJ, or temporomandibular joint syndrome, affects the jaw muscles and nerves surrounding the temporomandibular joint, which connects the skull to the jawbone. When injured, a person may feel pain while chewing. It is common to experience headaches, nerve inflammation, facial swelling, and jaw popping as well.
Although there is no definite cause of this joint disorder, certain factors may contribute to the problem. Stress, misalignment, arthritis, and other inflammatory disorders may be at the root of the condition. A periodontist will be able to properly diagnose the condition and recommend treatment.
Certain symptoms respond well to relaxation, stress reduction, and other home remedies. Ice packs help swelling subside. Over the counter anti inflammatories may calm inflammation, and gentle massaging of the jaw may ease pain. Other ways to treat TMJ at home include:
- Eat soft foods
- Rest your jaw muscles
- Avoid caffeine
- Watch your habits
- Sleep smart
- Don’t open wide
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When other treatments do not help, medical intervention may be necessary. For severe pain, a doctor may prescribe muscle relaxers or stronger pain medication. If the problem is caused by a misalignment or tooth grinding, a dental splint or mouth guard may be developed. These appliances are custom fit to an individual’s mouth and keep the jaw stable. Some people opt for botox injections to treat the pain of TMJ. Although it is not an FDA approved treatment for this joint disorder, it does relax muscles, which often alleviates pain.
Non conventional treatments include Transcutaneous Electric Nerve Therapy (TENS), laser therapy, ultrasound, and trigger point injections. TENS provides relief to the jaw and facial muscles with low levels of electric current. Lasers help lower inflammation, so a person can move the neck and mouth without pain. Ultrasound applies deep heat to the jaw joint, so mobility is heightened. Injections of anesthesia numb the pain and bring relief to tender muscles in the face.
After diagnosing TMJ, a periodontist will determine the best treatment on a case by case basis. Minor symptoms may simply be eased with minor treatments. Severe cases may require more complex therapy. An experienced periodontist knows the most effective ways to relieve pain, so patients can enjoy a good prognosis and live a normal life.