TMJ disorder treatment focuses on relieving pain and improving the function of the jaw joint (TMJ). Many TMJ disorder patients follow self-care techniques and feel much better in a short amount of time. This is why the National Institutes of Health says that when you have TMJ disorder, “less is best.”
Some patients, however, do not get better with home care and basic lifestyle changes. In these cases we always advocate that a patient reads the doctor’s proposed treatment plan, becomes knowledgeable about what it entails, the risks, the cost, insurance coverage (or lack of) and any alternatives. Generally speaking, it is better to begin with very conservative, non-invasive treatments and then move on to more invasive treatments if needed.
Here are the different types of TMJ disorder treatments and a short overview of each.
- Give your jaw a rest!
- Ice and/or heat are a TMJ disorder patient’s best friend
- Avoid unnecessary chewing (yes, I am looking at you, ice chewers and big-sandwich-lovers!).
- Screen medications you are taking since some can cause clenching. Also avoid alcohol since many people grind their teeth after drinking.
- Typically the first line of treatment provided by your dentist.
- Can help reduce clenching or grinding.
- Many different types of splints – soft, hard, splints that cover only a few teeth, splints that go on the top teeth, bottom teeth, etc. Make sure you understand why you will be wearing the specific type of splint the dentist is recommending. Don’t be afraid to get a second opinion…this is YOUR health!
- Type of medication will depend on the intensity of the disorder, your medical history, and other factors.
- The dentist or doctor may prescribe non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen, muscle relaxants, anti-anxiety medications, and in some cases, anti-depressants, which can change the way the brain handles pain signals (it doesn’t necessarily mean you are depressed).
- Pain medications – short acting opioid medications like hydrocodone (Vicodin) or oxycodone (Percocet), or long-acting pain medications like Oxycontin, Duragesic, or Methadone.
- Topical medications – some medications can be used in topical form, like local anesthetics and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
……. more about medications coming soon!
- Physical therapists can teach you methods of relaxation for your jaw.
- Learn ways to gently stretch and massage the muscles around your jaw.
- Learn proper ergonomics while sleeping or doing daily activities like sitting at your desk.
There are many types of treatments for TMJ disorder. Keep in mind that at this time, there are no FDA approved treatments or medications.
Here are some related articles about TMJ treatment that you might find helpful:
Pain Management for TMJ Disorder
Choosing a TMJ Dentist
Insurance Coverage for TMJ Treatment