There is no doubt about it; jaw pain is highly disruptive. When the jaw joint becomes inflamed, stiff or painful, it can make everyday life much less enjoyable. A large majority of jaw pain cases are a result of TMD, or temporomandibular joint disorder. Your TMJ (jaw joint) allows you to open and close your mouth, which means your speech and eating rely on its ability to function comfortably. In addition, TMD symptoms can go beyond jaw pain. Sufferers frequently have headaches, ear pain, facial pain, limited jaw movement and more. If you’ve been diagnosed with TMD, you are probably very ready for a solution.
Treatment for TMD can be divided into two broad categories: aggressive and conservative. While there are varying theories on which type is best, most patients and dentists prefer to select conservative therapies first. Not only are they less invasive, but studies have shown that conservative TMD therapy is highly effective for most patients.
Conservative treatments are based on the assumption that the jaw joint should be treated like any other joint in the body when it produces discomfort. Therefore, therapies include thermal treatments (ice and heat application), physical therapy (stretching, jaw exercises, and massage) as well as pain or muscle relaxant medication. For patients whose TMD is caused by teeth grinding, a custom mouth guard and/or BOTOX can be used to break the clenching habit and reduce the intensity of the clenching and grinding. These conservative methods tend to provide symptom relief as well as allow the jaw joint to recover or heal from the excessive strain and pressure.
On the other end of the spectrum are the aggressive treatments. This may include correcting a misaligned bite or altering the position of the jaw. Treatment can range from wearing braces to undergoing jaw surgery. It may also be possible to alter the bite surfaces by using dental bonding or crown/bridge work. Most aggressive treatments are not only more invasive, but also irreversible.
At Gilreath Family Dentistry, we understand your desperation to find an effective, long-term solution for your TMD. We will carefully evaluate your symptoms and recommend the most conservative treatment method possible. Our dentist stays at the forefront of his field, which means we utilize the latest, most proven therapies when it comes to treating jaw pain.
Posted on behalf of Dr. Paul Gilreath IV,