Effective Treatment Options for TMJ Disorders

3 Effective Treatment Options for Temporomandibular Joint Disorders (TMJ)

Have you been recently experiencing frequent jaw pain, headaches, or difficulty in opening and closing the mouth?

You may be suffering from TMJ or Temporomandibular Joint Disorders without realizing it. The conditions affecting your jaw joints and the muscles and ligaments surrounding them fall under the category of TMJ. Such conditions are seen more in women than in men. If you experience such symptoms, visit an experienced maxillofacial surgeon for a complete evaluation and the best treatment options.  

Understanding TMJ Disorder

The TMJ is a joint located at the meeting point of the jawbone and skull. It allows your jaw to slide up or down, allowing you to chew, talk, and perform other mouth actions. A TMJ disorder can restrict your jaw’s full range of movement, causing discomfort or pain. 

TMJ Disorder Signs 

TMJ Disorder Signs

The symptoms may vary from one person to another but usually include:

  • Facial pain
  • Jaw pain
  • Difficulty while opening or closing the mouth
  • Clicking or popping in the jaw
  • Headaches
  • Migraines
  • Tooth pain

Common Causes of TMJ Disorders

 

It is difficult to pinpoint one cause of TMJ. However, the reasons may include:

  • Bruxism – teeth grinding 
  • Malocclusion (when the teeth do not fit together properly)
  • Jaw joint arthritis
  • Stress
  • Dislocated jaw or other jaw injuries

Common Causes of TMJ Disorders

A person experiencing such signs of TMJ should see an experienced maxillofacial surgeon to prevent complications that may include chronic pain or limited chewing function.

For a person with TMJ, treatment can be non-surgical or surgical, considering factors like the severity and other underlying conditions. Your maxillofacial surgeon will decide the best course of treatment after careful evaluation.

Situations When Non-Surgical Methods Of TMJ Treatment Are Prescribed

Under the following conditions, your maxillofacial surgeon may suggest only non-surgical treatments:

  • Inconsistent symptoms: You may experience severe pain or discomfort one day and no such signs on other days. It could be a temporary effect of overusing repetitive motions like chewing hard food or gum, leading to fatigue in your TMJ. For such cases, your maxillofacial surgeon will only suggest rest for your jaw for a few days. 
  • You are able to close or open your jaw all the way: Your doctor may not recommend surgery if you have mobility in your jaw, though you may have some pain while doing so. Instead, you may be suggested medications, lifestyle changes, and physical therapy to reduce symptoms.

Conditions Under Which Surgery Is Needed

Your maxillofacial surgeon will suggest surgery under the following conditions:

  • Other treatment methods don’t work, and pain or immobility worsens
  • There are other diseases or problems seen in your jaw joint, diagnosed with an MRI or other radiological methods
  • Drinking or eating is a big strain 
  • You are unable to open or close your mouth all the way

Exploring Different Treatment Options For TMJ Disorders

Read further to discover the non-surgical and surgical treatment options for TMJ disorder. 

Medications 

There are several medications that your doctor may prescribe for TMJ:

  • Pain relieving medications
  • NSAIDs or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs 
  • Muscle relaxers for those who grind or clench their teeth
  • In some cases, anit-depressants that changes how your body interprets the pain

TMJ Arthroscopy 

Your maxillofacial surgeon makes a small incision in front of your ear. Then a thin tube known as a cannula will be inserted inside that has a camera and light. This process is also called a keyhole surgery. 

The surgeon will insert an arthroscope, a tool with a camera and light, through this hole to:

  • Remove scar tissue
  • For relief from swelling
  • Reshape your bone, or 
  • Restore the position of the disk in your joint.

Recovery is usually quicker because it is less invasive than open joint surgery.

Open joint surgery

This surgery is indicated in cases where keyhole surgery is not an option. In this procedure, the surgeon makes a long incision that enables direct access to your jaw joint.

It is usually done when the TJM disorder is severe and under the following conditions:

  • Lots of tissue and bone growth prevents movement of the joint
  • During fusion of the cartilage, joint tissue, or bone

The Recovery Process for TMJ

Recovery depends on the type of surgery and the patient’s medical condition. Since most TMJ surgeries are outpatient procedures, you may be allowed to go home the same day as your surgery. Open joint surgery has a higher success rate despite its long recovery process. 

Since the anesthesia can make you lose your focus or cause drowsiness, ensure someone accompanies you to your home. Usually, only one day of leave will be required, provided you will not have to move your mouth a lot at your job. It is advisable to allow yourself a few days of rest for full recovery.

You may have a bandage on your jaw after the surgery. Sometimes an extra bandage around your head will be made to keep the wound dressing in place.

Conclusion

Since TMJ affects everyone differently, it is not possible to accurately predict the recovery time. In some cases, where the symptoms are not severe, the disorder may go away in a week or two. But, for other people, it may develop into a chronic condition that negatively impacts life quality. 

It is advisable not to ignore the early symptoms of TMJ like being unable to eat or drink properly due to your jaw not opening fully. Visit an experienced maxillofacial surgeon like those at Gnathos Facial, who have years of experience in treating all kinds of jaw issues like TMJ. 

The hospital cum dental clinic at Gnathos facial is equipped with the latest equipment to perform all types of TMJ surgery with precision. Treatment at the clinic is recommended after considering all your underlying medical conditions like diabetes or heart issues to ensure zero complications and quick recovery.

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