Temporomandibular joint disorder is often called TMJ, and it can be a very painful condition. You may have first noticed the disorder when your jaw began hurting while chewing. Over time TMJ can lead to pain even while your jaw is at rest. It can even make it hard to close or open your mouth. Luckily, you don't have to suffer with TMJ. Here are five methods of TMJ treatment that can help.
1. Get diagnosed.
The first step to getting your TMJ treated is to get an official diagnosis. Your dentist is the person you'll need to see for that. Other health problems can sometimes show TMJ-like symptoms, so it's important to get evaluated. Your dentist will be able to rule out alternate explanations like cavities or infected gums which can also cause facial pain. Your dentist will ask you to open and close your mouth so they can observe your jaw during the process. They may also palpate your jaw muscles to feel for any abnormalities.
2. Have imaging done.
If your dentist suspects TMJ, they will take x-rays and other images of your jaw and mouth in order to confirm the diagnosis. A CT scan and MRI will help your dentist find out how severe your TMJ is by allowing them to get a good look at your jaw muscles.
3. Take medication.
Medication is one of the first steps in treating TMJ. You can use over-the-counter pain killers to control the ache that arises from this disorder. According to Mayo Clinic, your dentist may also prescribe muscle relaxants. If your TMJ is being exacerbated by you clenching your jaw, muscle relaxants can help you break the habit. Certain kinds of antidepressants may also be used to help you control your TMJ, since they can alleviate some of the contributing factors.
4. Wear a mouth guard.
If you grind your teeth at night, it can contribute to your jaw pain. Your dentist may want to treat this with a mouth guard. They will be able to take a mold of your teeth and have a mouth guard custom fitted for you. This can help relieve some of your TMJ pain.
5. Try alternate treatments.
If your TMJ doesn't respond to any of these treatment options, don't worry; there are many other options available. Your dentist may want to administer steroid shots into your jaw muscles. This can help reduce inflammation and give you lasting relief from TMJ. In severe cases where nothing else works, you may be a candidate for arthroscopic surgery. This is a minimally invasive type of surgery that can help you recover from TMJ.