TMJ disorders are a common issue that arises when there is a problem with the Temporomandibular Joint, which connects your jaw to your skull. The bones and muscles allow you to move your jaw up and down, so you can speak and chew food. Dr. Kevin F. Postol and his team of highly trained dental professionals can help to diagnose and treat TMJ disorders, so if you think that you may be suffering, schedule an appointment right away.
Symptoms of TMJ disorders include pain or tenderness in the face and jaw area, a locking jaw, clicking or popping sounds when you move your jaw, trouble chewing, and swelling on the sides of the face. TMJ disorders can affect anybody and there is a wide range of possible causes. Many patients experience TMJ disorders following an injury to the jaw, neck or head. It may also be caused by arthritis in the joint, movement between the soft tissue between the ball and socket in the joint, clenching your teeth, or even stress, which causes you to tighten your face muscles.
Dr. Kevin Postol can identify the causes of your TMJ disorder and decide on the most appropriate treatment. In some cases, TMJ disorders will go away on their own, but most patients require some kind of TMj treatment. If you schedule an appointment, there is a wide range of different treatments that may be recommended.
Medications can be used to relieve the symptoms and treat the pain caused by TMJ disorders.
Pain relievers and anti-inflammatories
For mild cases of TMJ disorder, some patients find that over the counter pain medications are adequate. However, if the pain is more severe, we can prescribe stronger pain relievers. Medications such as prescription-strength ibuprofen, for example, may be prescribed for a limited time.
Tricyclic antidepressants, such as amitriptyline, are most commonly used to treat mental health issues, like depression. However, in small doses, they can be used for pain relief and to improve sleep patterns. They can also be used to treat bruxism (excessive grinding of the teeth), which may be a cause of TMJ disorders.
If we suspect that your TMJ disorder is caused by tight muscles around the jaw, often as a result of stress, we can prescribe muscle relaxants. After a few weeks of use, you should notice a reduction in pain and symptoms.
Mediations can be very effective when trying to manage the symptoms of TMJ disorder and some patients will find that the issue goes away after taking medication. However, these medications will not always deal with the root cause of the issue and our team may recommend other treatment options.
If medication is not giving you enough relief or you want to avoid taking medication, if possible, there are some non-drug therapies that we can offer.
Oral splints and mouthguards
Many patients that suffer from TMJ disorders benefit from a mouthguard or a splint in the mouth. It is a very beneficial non-drug treatment for a lot of patients that suffer from TMJ disorders.
Physical therapy is another effective TMJ treatment that treats issues with the muscles and joints around the jaw. We may prescribe certain stretches and exercises that are designed to stretch and loosen muscles in the jaw and strengthen them. In some cases, we can also offer treatments using ultrasound or heat and ice.
If we believe that your TMJ disorder is caused by habits such as teeth grinding, biting your fingernails, and leaning on your chin, we may prescribe counseling. This will help you to understand why you engage in these behaviors, which are often caused by stress or anxiety. Many patients find that counseling helps them to avoid these behaviors, so they see a reduction in symptoms of TMJ disorder.
If other methods of TMJ treatment are not working, Dr. Kevin Postol will take you through your different options for surgical procedures to deal with TMJ disorders.
Arthrocentesis is a simple procedure that involves using small needles, which are inserted into the muscles in the jaw. This will remove fluids and reduce inflammation in the muscles. It is a minimally invasive procedure that does not require major surgery and many patients find that it is very effective.
You may also benefit from injections of corticosteroids into the jaw muscles. In rare cases, patients also benefit from botox injections into the jaw to prevent pain when chewing.
Arthroscopy is often used as an alternative TMJ treatment to open-joint surgery as it is less invasive. A small tube, known as a cannula, is inserted into the joint space, then an arthroscope is inserted and small surgical tools are used to perform surgery. Although there are fewer risks involved than there are with open-joint surgery, this treatment is limited and, in some cases, open-joint surgery is necessary.
Modified condylotomy is a TMJ treatment that involves surgery on the mandible rather than the jaw itself, but it can still address issues with a locking jaw and pain that are caused by TMJ disorder.
If all other types of TMJ treatment are ineffective, we can offer open-joint surgery to address the issue. This is usually required when structural problems with the joints in the jaw are causing a TMJ disorder. Rebuilding or replacing the joint itself is necessary for some patients, and this is when open-joint surgery will be used. However, we will only use this in cases where other TMJ treatments are ineffective because there are more risks involved.
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of a TMJ disorder, schedule an appointment with Dr. Kevin Postol today. Our experienced team can assess your issue and try to determine the root cause of your TMJ disorder. We will then recommend one of these TMJ treatments so you can find relief and manage your pain. Many people live with this disorder for too long before seeking TMJ treatments, but you don’t have to put up with the pain, so contact us today so we can help you.