Treatment Options for TMJ Disorder

Treatment options for TMJ disorder range from self care, therapies, medication, devices, or surgery.  

Self Care are changes one can make to reduce the severity of symptoms, although do not address the cause of the symptoms.  These changes include going to a soft foods diet; practicing relaxation techniques such as deep breathing exercises, yoga or meditation; and stress management.

Therapies, like self care can reduce the severity of symptoms, but may or may not address the cause of the symptoms. Some therapies include: heat, which soothes stiff joints and relaxes muscles, or ice, which numbs sharp pain and reduces inflammation.  Stretching and physical therapy can improve flexibility and restore function through exercise.  Biofeedback can be used to alert patients of excessive or inappropriate muscle function.  Acupuncture is the insertion of needles into specific areas to reduce pain.

Medications commonly used to treat TMJ symptoms include analgesics to relieve pain; nerve pain medication to block pain caused by damaged nerves; muscle relaxants to reduce muscle tension and help relieve muscle pain and discomfort; or narcotics that cause drowsiness, calmness, and dulled senses. Some types may become addictive.

Devices can reduce the effects of teeth clenching and grinding, stabilize the jaw joint and restore proper jaw alignment.  Devices, such as the custom oral appliance, address the structure of the anatomy and treat the cause of the TMJ dysfunction.  Temporary oral splints can be helpful to reduce jaw pain and occlusal guards can help prevent tooth damage from grinding and clenching.

Surgery addresses the causes of TMJ dysfunction.  Various surgical options may include arthrocentesis, arthroscopy, or open-joint surgery.

Here at the Center for TMJ & Sleep Disorders, we believe in a non-surgical approach to treatment that typically involves short term recommendations such as heat/cold therapy, wearing a temporary oral splint, jaw exercises, and/or cold laser treatments.  Typically, our long term treatment plans involve a custom oral appliance that is worn at night. 

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