Treatment of TMJ or Temporomandibular Disordersa
Dental Bonding is a procedure in which a tooth-colored resin is adhered to a tooth to repair decay, chipping, fractures or discoloration. Bonding can also be used to change the shape of teeth or to close spaces between teeth. Unless it’s being used to fill cavities, dental bonding requires no anesthesia, and depending on the number of teeth being bonded, often can be completed in one visit.
The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the hinge that connects your jaw to your skull. It lets you move your jaw up and down and side to side. Problems with your jaw and its muscles are known as temporomandibular disorders (TMD).
TMD can cause pain or tenderness in your face, jaw, neck, shoulders, or in or around your ears when you open your mouth wide, chew, or talk. Your jaw may get “locked” in the open or closed position. You may have clicking, popping, or grating sounds when you open and close your mouth or chew. You may experience swelling on one or both sides of your face. You may also notice that your bite doesn’t align properly. You may experience toothaches, headaches, hearing problems, earaches, neck and/or shoulder pain. TMD can cause severe pain and discomfort that can last for years. It can affect one or both sides of the face.
There isn’t one exact cause for TMD. Injuries to your jaw, the joint, or the muscles of your head and neck can lead to TMD. Other common causes include grinding or clenching of teeth, the movement of the soft cushion or disc between the ball and socket of the joint, arthritis, and stress – which can cause you to tighten your facial and jaw muscles and clench your teeth.
To determine the best treatment for your TMD, your dentist will examine you and ask for a full health history. He or she may also take X-rays, or ask for other tests like MRI or CT scans. Once your dentist has a better idea of what’s causing your TMD, he or she can offer several treatments.
- Medications like over-the-counter pain relievers, tricyclic antidepressants, sedatives, and muscle relaxants.
- Bite guards or oral splints to help prevent damage from clenching or grinding of teeth.
- Physical therapy, including ultrasound, electrical nerve stimulation, and radio wave therapies.
- Dental work to repair or correct a bite problem.
- Arthrocentesis may be used if you have no major history of TMJ but your jaws are locked. It can be performed in your dentist’s office. You’ll receive general anesthesia, and your dentist will insert needles or special tools into the joint to wash it out, get rid of damaged tissue or dislodge a stuck disc, or to unstick the joint itself.
- Arthroscopyis is surgery done with an arthroscope – a special tool with a lens and a light on it to allow your dentist to see inside the joint. Under general anesthesia, the doctor will make a small cut in front of your ear and insert the arthroscope. Using this tool with a video monitor, the doctor will examine your joint and the area around it, remove inflamed tissue, or realign the disc or joint. This minimally invasive surgery has fewer complications and requires a shorter recovery time than a major operation.
- If complications prevent the doctor from performing surgery with the arthroscope, open joint surgery may be necessary. This requires general anesthesia, and the doctor will open up the entire area surrounding the join for better access. Open joint surgery requires a longer recovery time, and there is a greater risk of scarring and nerve damage.
If you are experiencing jaw pain, talk to your dentist about TMD to see if treatment can help.
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