A TMJ disorder is a problem that occurs when the temporomandibular joint gets damaged or stressed in some way. This joint is the one connecting the lower jaw to the skull and is the one that controls all the jaw movements. The temporomandibular joint is supposed to move freely, with a thin disc of muscle acting as ta divider between the two. When this muscle gets pulled by accident, the joints start rubbing at each other, which often causes the pain related to TMJ. Stressed muscles surrounding the jaw area can also cause discomfort as well.
There are many conditions that can are similar to those of a TMJ disorder so careful physical and patient history examination needs to be done by a dentist in order to diagnose this problem. Some of the signs that are related to this disorder are clicking and popping of the jaw, tenderness in the jaw area, limited ability to open and close the mouth, and locking of the jaw.
TMJ usually does not require any surgeries. More often than not, the treatments prescribed for those who have it involve taking medicines, using dental appliances, and applying home remedies. This does not mean, however, that these treatments are not long-term. Below, we will give you some options for long term TMJ pain relief.
• Mouth Guard
TMJ is usually caused by unnecessary pain placed on the jaw. Mouth guards or splints are dental appliances that are designed to relieve this. They are usually used to cure the person of bruxism or the grinding of teeth at night which puts lots of stress on the jaw.
• Dental treatment
Problems with the bite can lead to TMJ because of uneven teeth can cause unnecessary pressure and stress on the jaw. There are various dental treatments that a dentist can recommend for TMJ pain relief, depending on the case of the patient. Bite adjustment which requires the reshaping of some teeth is an example. Replacing of missing teeth can also be prescribed.
• Stress reduction
Stress is a big contributing factor in TMJ. Doctors may require the need for psychotherapy and counselling in the event of this to relieve some the stress of the patient. Cognitive behavioural therapy and the practice of relaxation strategies like hypnosis and meditation have also been said to help.
A surgery may only be required if all the other non-invasive options didn’t work on the patient. Moreover, only patients which have been proven to have a structural problem on their jaw are prescribed to have one. Surgery can only be carried out by a surgeon and specialist and should be strictly based on dental scans such as X-rays.
One example of a surgical treatment often done to patients with TMJ is called the ‘key-hole’ surgery. Here, small incisions will be made on the jaw area of the patient and a small camera will be placed inside for the doctors to properly see the affected area. The view they will see will determine what kind of adjustments they have to do to correct the problem.