The temporomandibular joints are among the most important and routinely used in the entire human body. These joints, better known as the TMJs, are located on either side of the head just in front of the ear, where they connect the lower jaw to the skull. When the TMJ becomes inflamed, worn down, fatigued, or otherwise damaged, the results can range from annoying clicking and locking of the jaw to constant, excruciating pain.
The possible causes of TMJ disorder are many and varied; in most cases, several causes are at play and, in many cases, a definitive cause cannot be identified. Likewise, the symptoms of TMJ disorder can be diverse. While discomfort can be localized at the site of the TMJs or in the jaw, it can spread to the neck, shoulders, head, and even the back. The disorder can even manifest itself in such seemingly unrelated symptoms as tinnitus, chronic migraines, and hearing loss.
At Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Associates in Montgomery, TMJ disorder treatments generally encompass multiple therapeutic approaches, depending on the underlying causes and the symptoms that are being presented. Because most TMJ disorders are highly complex, a complex, multifaceted, fully customized solution is usually called for. Our goal is not only to provide immediate relief for the most troubling symptoms, including pain, but to rectify the issues contributing to the disorder so that long-term relief can be achieved.
Common Treatments for TMJ Disorder
If you suffer from TMJ disorder, your treatment plan will depend on several factors, including:
- The results of our thorough examination of your head, neck, mouth, and jaw
- Your lifestyle
- The symptoms you exhibit
- Your medical and dental histories
Among the therapeutic approaches we may take to addressing your TMJ disorder are:
- Lifestyle changes: We always begin with the most conservative approach to relieving the symptoms of TMJ disorder. Stress, alcohol consumption, lack of sleep, and unhealthy lifestyle habits can all contribute to TMJ disorder.
- Physical therapy: Another conservative method, certain jaw exercises can help to train the jaw muscles and alleviate the discomfort associated with TMJ disorder.
- Custom mouthguard therapy: Many patients who suffer from TMJ disorder also grind their teeth, usually without realizing that they are doing so and often while they are asleep. This condition, called bruxism, is often related to stress. To reduce the pressure placed on the teeth and jaw, a custom mouthguard can be created, to be worn in the mouth overnight. In some patients, this alone helps to relieve much of the discomfort of TMJ disorder.
- Orthodontic treatment: Patients who have misaligned teeth and a structurally defective bite (i.e., how the upper and lower teeth meet when a person bites down) often suffer from TMJ problems. Orthodontic treatment can bring the teeth into proper alignment, potentially helping to relieve the symptoms of TMJ disorder.
- Orthognathic surgery: Corrective jaw surgery can be performed to bring the jaws into improved alignment. Unless the patient suffers from a congenital deformity, this is considered a last-resort treatment for TMJ disorder, after more conservative and less invasive solutions have been exhausted.
Learn More about TMJ Disorder Treatments
To learn more about TMJ disorder treatments, please contact Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery today.