Why TMD/TMJ Treatment?
TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint. The TMJ is the joint that connects the temporal bone of the skull with the mandible, or lower jaw bone. The TMJ is one of the most complicated and sensitive joints in the body. There are many soft tissues surrounding it, and more than one-third of all nerves that go to the brain pass near this joint.
The TMJ is highly affected by your teeth. As far as the brain is concerned, your tooth position has priority over the joint position. Thus, your TMJ is forced by the surrounding muscles to move in whatever ways are necessary to allow your teeth to function properly. When this happens, the muscles can get caught between the tooth position and the jaw position, compromising your muscles causing spasm, facial pain, and discomfort.
Much of the TMJ discomfort people experience is the result of the muscle spasms. TMJ disorders involve the dysfunction of both the joint and its associated muscles. Because a number of the problems associated with this disorder are not in the joint itself, the condition is more accurately referred to as TMD which stands for temporomandibular disorder. The majority of TMDs are caused by bite problems. Some patients, however, have clicking, popping, or grinding noises in their jaw joints in addition to pain in the surrounding areas. Treatment of TMDs includes a wide range of options depending on the underlying cause and severity of the problem.
What to Expect
Our doctors and dental hygienists in New York work together to identify and treat TMD/TMJ effectively to help patients become more comfortable.
If your doctor or dentist suspects a problem, you may need a Dental X-Ray, CT scan or MRI to:
- Examine your teeth and jaw
- Provide detailed images of the bones involved in the joint
- Reveal problems with the joint's disk or surrounding soft tissue
TMJ arthroscopy is sometimes used in the diagnosis of a TMJ disorder. During TMJ arthroscopy, your doctor will insert a small thin tube into the joint space, and a small camera to view the area.
Based on the diagnosis there are several different types of TMJ surgeries.
Arthrocentesis is the minimally invasive and is done by injecting fluid into your joint. The fluid washes out any chemical byproducts of inflammation and can help reduce pressure that causes the joint to be stiff or painful. This can help you regain some of your jaw’s range of motion.
Arthroscopy is done by opening a small hole or a few small holes in the skin above the joint.
If open-join surgery is needed, this will consist of opening an incision a few inches long over the joint so your healthcare provider can operate on the joint itself. Your surgeon will be able to remove growths or excess tissue. They are also able to repair or reposition the disc if it’s out of place or damaged.
Recovery from a TMJ surgery depends on the person and the type of surgery performed. Most TMJ surgeries are outpatient procedures, which means you’ll be able to go home the same day as the surgery.
After the procedure is done, you may have a bandage on your jaw. Your doctor may also wrap an additional bandage around your head to keep the wound dressing secure and in place.
For one to two days after the surgery, avoid solid and crunchy foods, take prescribed pain medication, apply a cold compress to reduce swelling the, and apply warm heat to relax the muscles.
Your First Visit
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Frequently Asked Questions
Proper diagnosis is a key step toward proper treatment of any TMJ disorder, and the dentists at Arlington Dental Group are specially trained to check your joints and muscles for tenderness. They’ll spot any other signs of the condition, too, including clicking, popping, and difficulty moving. Your dentist can show you jaw exercises specifically designed to strengthen and stretch your jaws, and may recommend that you switch to a liquid or soft diet to rest your jaws. Your dentist may also ask you to avoid chewing gum, use ice packs or moist heat for pain, use a bite guard if you grind your teeth at night or find a way to reduce stress or anxiety.