How a Dentist Can Treat TMJ Disorder
TMJ disorders are known to affect the jaw joint as well as the muscles that control your jaw. The disorders can be challenging to diagnose and treat due to the complexity of the joint. Millions of Americans experience TMJ disorders at a particular point in their lives. The good thing is that you can receive treatment for the problems. Read on to learn how your dentist can treat TMJ disorders.
There is a wide array of symptoms that are linked to TMJ. Some common symptoms include pain when moving the jaw, backache, neck ache and headaches or migraines. Other symptoms include an unusual clicking, popping or grinding noise that can occur while a person is talking, eating or opening the mouth and restricted movement. Here are some ways a dentist can help treat TMJ disorders.
For a large number of patients with TMJ disorders, the short-term use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or over-the-counter pain medicines can help provide temporary relief from jaw discomfort. If these medications are not enough, a dentist may prescribe stronger anti-inflammatory or pain medications, anti-depressants or muscle relaxants to help ease symptoms. The dentist may prescribe stronger pain relievers for a short period. Tricyclic antidepressants, in low doses, are in some cases used for pain relief, sleeplessness and bruxism control. Muscle relaxants are sometimes used for some days or even weeks to help relieve pain, especially for TMJ problems created by muscle spasms.
A dentist can recommend an oral appliance, also commonly known as a stabilization splint or bite guard. This is a plastic guard that often fits comfortably over the lower or upper teeth. Even though studies on the effectiveness of stabilization splints in providing pain relief have been inconclusive, these appliances are often used for the treatment of TMJ problems. If a dentist recommends it, it should be used for a short time. Stabilization splints should not cause permanent changes in the bite. If there are any problems experienced from using them like increased pain or if it affects the bite, a patient should stop using it and the dentist should be informed of the complications.
Other treatment options
A dentist can show a patient how to do particular exercises that can help stretch or strengthen the jaw muscles. This is ideal because they can increase the jaw movement. Sometimes, a dentist may suggest fixing an uneven bite by reshaping or adjusting some teeth. Orthodontic treatment may also help. However, a patient can benefit from knowing more about irreversible treatments such as orthodontics to change the bite and the potential risks. This will help a patient to make a good choice.
Your dentist may diagnose TMJ disorders based on particular symptoms including limited jaw movement and persistent pain around the jaw and various other information. Your dentist will then recommend the most appropriate treatment method based on the suspected cause. If the suggested treatments do not end up providing enough relief, you may be referred to a health care practitioner who focuses on TMJ disorders. If you have any questions about TMJ, talk to your dentist today.
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