Are you suffering from jaw pain, headaches, neck pain, numbness in your fingers, and other symptoms that your doctor hasn’t been able to help you with? If so, it’s likely that you are suffering from TMJ, temporomandibular joint disorder. In TMJ, your jaw system is out of balance, setting your muscles against your teeth and bones, with the joint itself along with nerves and various other soft tissues becoming innocent victims in the struggle.
TMJ treatment seeks to put your jaw back in balance, preventing progressive damage to tissues and alleviating your symptoms. If you want to learn more about TMJ treatment and how we can help, we encourage you to please call 303-759-5652 or contact Park Meadows Dental Care today for an appointment with a TMJ dentist in Centennial.
What Is TMJ?
TMJ, also called TMD, is a condition in which a dysfunction of the jaw system results in a wide range of problems. It’s not a singular condition which can be easily and clearly defined. It’s more like a spectrum of conditions that can cause a wide range of TMJ symptoms.
At its simplest level, TMJ may be when your muscles develop excess tension. This may be because the configuration of your bones, teeth, and joints don’t allow your muscles to rest in a position that’s truly restful. This muscle tension can cause pain in the muscles of the jaw, and tension can be passed on to other muscles in the head and neck, causing tension headaches and neck pain.
TMJ can develop into displacement of the cushioning disk that rests between the bone of the jaw (the mandible), and the part of the skull where the jawbone attaches (the temporal bone). When this disc becomes displaced, it results in irregular motions of the jaw, and often popping of the jaw joint as the disc slips into place as the jaw opens.
TMJ Treatment at Home
It’s often advised that you begin by trying home care for your TMJ problems. Start by trying to rest your jaw. Eat soft foods. Cut foods into small bites. Apply heat or cold to sore muscles. Try to avoid stressful situations and thoughts that might make you clench your jaw.
If this attempt to treat your TMJ at home without medication doesn’t work, you might try taking a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) like ibuprofen, aspirin, or naproxen (Aleve), according to directions. If you start to exceed the label’s recommendations without curing the condition, it’s time to seek professional help.
Professional TMJ Treatment
A neuromuscular dentist is a dentist who has extensively studied the treatment of TMJ. This type of dentist is a good place to seek treatment for your TMJ.
When you come to your office, we will perform some basic exams to determine whether it’s likely you have TMJ. If it seems likely, we will collect information about muscle tension, jaw movement, teeth, jaw configuration, and more. This will tell us the current state of your jaw system.
Then we will use TENS (transcutaneous electric nerve stimulation), a kind of electric massage, to relax your jaw muscles, allowing us to study your jaw’s motion without the built-up muscle tension. Often this will reveal the jaw’s optimal configuration and position. For some people, this is so effective that this massage is actually the only treatment required.
Other times, we will use BOTOX ® injections to relax your muscles. BOTOX ® injections can be used to calm overactive muscles without impairing your ability to speak or chew. The effects can last for three months or more.
We might also recommend a bite splint or orthotic, which is like a combination of a retainer, a sports mouthguard, and a leg brace. You wear it to hold your jaw in its optimal position for rest and recovery. You may start out wearing it much of the day, then move to wearing it only at night, sometimes only a few times a week. For most people the bite splint is a great way to get long-term relief of TMJ symptoms.
Many people, though, want a more permanent treatment that means they don’t have to wear their bite splint at all. In this case, we can transition to braces and/or the restoration of your teeth to encourage your bite to move into its ideal position permanently.
If you would like to learn which TMJ treatment is necessary in your case, please contact us online or call (303) 759-5652 Park Meadows Dental Care, in Centennial today.