The majority of people who suffer from disorders of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) will find that the condition can be managed nonsurgically by a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or a Doctor of Medicine in Dentistry (DMD), also known as a dentist. Indeed, unless the TMJ disorder is due to a dislocation or break in the joint, TMJ treatment will be provided by a dentist. In cases where a dislocation or deformity of the joint requires surgery, an oral surgeon will provide the surgery, working in collaboration with your dentist.
Diagnosing the Cause of TMJ Disorders
To properly treat TMJ disorders, dentists first look to diagnose the cause of the painful condition. Common causes of TMJ disorders include:
- Bruxism (teeth grinding and jaw clenching)
- Arthritis (osteoarthritis, inflammatory arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis)
- Tooth or bite misalignment
- Injury to the jaw
Incidentally, stress is also a known risk factor for developing TMJ. Stress itself doesn’t cause TMJ but may prompt people who normally don’t grind their teeth to begin doing so.
Treatments Dentists May Prescribe for TMJ Disorders
The cause of TMJ will dictate the treatment prescribed by your dentist. For example, if you’re grinding your teeth at night, your dentist may recommend a custom night guard (known as a stabilization splint) or Botox injections. Night guards prevent you from biting and clenching, thus reducing pressure on the jaw joint. Botox injections paralyze the muscles that are required to clench at night, which also relieves pressure.
If the pain in the joint is due to arthritis, your dentist may prescribe anti-inflammatory medication to reduce swelling in the joint. In some cases, steroid injections may also be indicated for severe inflammation in the jaw joint.
If pain in the jaw joint is due to a misalignment of the teeth or a bite issue (malocclusion), orthodontic treatment such as Invisalign or braces may be necessary to treat the symptoms of TMJ.
At-Home Treatments to Alleviate TMJ Symptoms
New onset of TMJ symptoms, including pain in the jaw, clicking or popping sounds, headaches, or tooth pain can often be mitigated at home. Temporary lifestyle changes such as switching to softer foods, icing the outside of the jaw joint, and minimizing extreme jaw movement may calm irritation and inflammation.
Those who develop TMJ symptoms during particularly demanding or stressful times may find that meditative practices such as deep breathing, yoga, tai chi, or daily walks in nature may help.
Get Non-Surgical Help for TMJ Disorders
At Aliso Smiles, Dr. Patel is highly experienced and successful in helping patients get relief from pain due to TMJ disorders. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Patel at Aliso Smiles, call 949-916-7800 or message us.
Frequently Asked Questions
Once I have TMJ will I always have it?
Not necessarily. Some people may suffer from chronic flare-ups of TMJ symptoms. Others may experience symptoms for a period and never experience them again. Fortunately, nearly all people will experience relief from TMJ with non-surgical treatment.
Is TMJ hereditary?
TMJ disorders aren’t inherited, per se. However, there are very clearly genetic factors involved in some of the underlying conditions that lead to TMJ symptoms. For example, certain types of arthritis tend to run in families. Likewise, malocclusions such as an overbite or underbite are often inherited. So, although pain in the joint isn’t an inherited trait, the causes of the pain certainly can be.