How Do You Fix TMJ and TMD?

How Do You Fix TMJ and TMD?

Aug 01, 2023

What Are TMJ and TMD?

TMJ is an acronym for temporomandibular joint. It is a joint that connects the jawbone to the skull. When there is a problem, say infection, inflammation, displacements, or fracture at the joint, it results in a disorder called temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMD). However, most people use the acronyms TMJ and TMD interchangeably, usually referring to connective tissue dysfunction.

Identifying the Main Cause of TMD

Before you receive TMJ/TMD Treatment in Glastonbury, CT, your dentist will seek to diagnose the underlying cause of the problem. The cause determines a lot regarding the course of treatment. Some causes of TMD are:

  • Bruxism – excessive teeth grinding and clenching at night puts pressure on your teeth and jaw. Repeatedly doing this will weaken and wear down your teeth, leading to TMD and other jaw-related complications.
  • Injuries and accidents – a blow in your head or mouth can displace discs in the TMJ or fracture a few bones. The stakes are high if you insist on playing high-contact sports without wearing mouthguards.
  • Jaw misalignment – usually due to tooth loss or developmental abnormalities. The Misalignment strains the jaw and teeth, which then triggers inflammation at the TMJ.
  • Inflammatory illnesses, such as osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis, cause joint degeneration and inflammation.
  • Malocclusion – is an abnormal bite due to orthodontic factors like an overbite, underbite, or crossbite. The malocclusion can also include a crowded mouth that promotes unevenness.

How Do Dentists Fix TMD?

​Temporomandibular joint dysfunction treatments differ for each patient because the underlying causes differ. Some of the ways a TMJ specialist in Glastonbury, CT, will address your TMD are:

  • Lifestyle and self-care recommendations: Dentists recommend practices that can relieve TMD symptoms directly and indirectly. They may include applying moist heat or cold packs to soothe the jaw, stress reduction techniques, eating soft foods, avoiding extreme jaw movements, and practicing good posture, especially at night.
  • Medications: A prescription of certain meds will manage pain and inflammation associated with TMD. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), muscle relaxants, or low-dose tricyclic antidepressants are among the top prescriptions for this disorder.
  • Oral appliances: Bite splints are custom-made devices worn in the mouth to stabilize the jaw joint, prevent teeth grinding, and reduce muscle tension. Wearing them during the day or while sleeping helps alleviate TMD symptoms.
  • Dental adjustments: Dentists may recommend adjustments to reshape the biting surfaces, get dental restorations (e.g., crowns or bridges), or begin orthodontic treatment to correct the bite and relieve pressure on the TMJ.
  • Physical therapy and jaw exercises feature targeted exercises and techniques that strengthen jaw muscles, improve movement, and reduce pain.
  • Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) uses low-level electrical currents that stimulate muscles and nerves in the jaw joint. It reduces muscle pain and relaxes the jaw muscles to relieve TMD symptoms temporarily.
  • Injections or surgical interventions: Severe TMDs usually do not respond to conservative treatments. Therefore, dentists consider injections or surgery at Steven F. Hinchey, DMD. Corticosteroid injections can reduce inflammation, while surgeries repair or replace the damaged tissues.

When to Seek Treatment for TMD

If you suspect to have TMD, it is best to visit your dentist immediately to begin treatment. Early diagnosis and treatment prevent furtherance and advancements of complications. If I am sure that you may need medical attention for your TMJ, consider the following symptoms:

  • Pain or discomfort in the jaw joint – is usually the primary symptom among all TMD patients. During the early stages, the pain will be localized. However, over time, it may radiate to surrounding areas, causing toothaches, headaches, ear pain, and neck strains.
  • Popping noises when moving the jaw to speak or eat – sometimes, the noises may be audible to others sitting next to you.
  • Limited jaw movement – you may experience stiffness and a sensation of the jaw joint locking when you open your mouth. Some patients experience jaw lock, where the jaw gets stuck in the open-mouth position.
  • Ringing or buzzing in the ears – even accompanied by a feeling of fullness or pressure
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