Posted on January 12, 2022
Nearly 12 million Americans report pain near their temporomandibular joint (TMJs), according to the National Institutes of Health. The TMJs are the sliding hinge joints on either side of the skull that allows for jaw movement. When the joints are unable to function properly, a painful degenerative condition called TMJ disorder, also known as TMD, can arise.
If you were recently diagnosed with this disorder, you are probably wondering what is the best treatment for TMJ. Orthodontic treatment is one of several effective treatments for TMJ syndrome. We’ll cover your options for treating TMJ in this article.
You may be wondering if your TMJ disorder requires treatment. Even under ideal conditions, the TMJs are placed under great pressure every day. TMJ disorders put extra stress on those joints.
TMJ disorder is a degenerative disease, meaning it will likely become progressively worse if the underlying causes of the condition are not addressed. Symptoms like an achy jaw and difficulty chewing will not likely improve without prompt and professional treatment.
Following treatment for your TMJ symptoms, you can enjoy the benefits of improved jaw function, more restful nights, and the alleviation of pain in the neck and ears.
Dental misalignment can throw off your jaw alignment. Your dental occlusion allows the jaws to rest together at night in a manner that does not stress the TMJs.
Many people who experience jaw discomfort experience those symptoms due to malocclusion. Your dentist or orthodontist can address malocclusion with orthodontic treatment. Your two options are traditional metal braces and Invisalign clear aligners.
Traditional metal braces require that your orthodontist places brackets on the front of your teeth. The brackets can be made from metal, ceramic, or other materials. Your orthodontist then runs an archwire through the brackets.
Through periodic visits to your orthodontist, he or she will use wire tightening to slowly reposition your teeth. As your occlusion improves, you will notice continual alleviation of your TMJ symptoms.
The other form of orthodontic care uses clear aligners. Clear aligners are ultra-thin clear trays that fit snugly over your teeth. Patients wear the aligners for two weeks at a time before replacing each set of trays.
Each new tray is straighter than the last. The aligners gently nudge teeth into better alignment through micromovements. The aligners must be worn for 22 hours a day.
As with traditional metal braces, clear aligners gradually alleviate the symptoms of TMJ disorder. By the time your orthodontic treatment using clear aligners is complete, most patients will notice drastic or complete alleviation of their symptoms.
Orthodontic treatments are considered the best TMJ disorder treatment for the vast majority of people who suffer from TMD. In rare cases, patients may require jaw surgery to address severe TMJ disorder symptoms.
Surgery may be needed when structures of the jaw need to be significantly changed. Your orthodontists will help you determine if you require maxillofacial surgery. Doctors treat some TMJ conditions through a combination of surgery and orthodontic treatment.
Cortisol injections are one effective and less invasive treatment option. Botox injections have been known to alleviate symptoms of TMJ disorder in specific cases.
Some people are able to manage their symptoms using medications. Pain relief and anti-inflammatory drugs can help address moderate TMJ disorder symptoms.
Pain management is not the same thing as treatment, though, so the symptoms may persist. The long-term risks of medications can lead to other problems as well.
Muscle relaxants can address certain causes of TMJ disorder. If muscle spams and bruxism are leading to TMJ disorder symptoms, your doctor may prescribe muscle relaxants.
For some individuals, therapies may provide some relief. Oral splints provide relief during sleep. The oral appliance looks similar to a mouthguard. Oral splints are particularly helpful for people who have bruxism.
Physical therapy can strengthen jaw muscles. This can provide relief when weak muscles are the underlying cause of TMD. The treatment may be used in conjunction with ice and heat.
If stress is the underlying cause of your TMJ disorder, your orthodontist may recommend counseling or therapy. This treatment can be used in conjunction with other options mentioned in this blog.
Home remedies deliver mixed results, but they are often not dangerous to try. Dietary changes to softer foods can relieve stress on the jaws.
Muscle exercises and stretches can also help. Heat and cold packs may deliver temporary relief as well.
If you are experiencing the symptoms of TMJ disorder, your first step should be to schedule an exam with your orthodontist. During your exam, your orthodontist will inquire into your symptoms.
When you experience spikes of discomfort, they can help diagnose whether you have TMJ disorder with X-rays and digital images. A TMJ disorder diagnosis may include a physical exam.
Most people are able to address their symptoms using orthodontic treatment. Traditional braces and Invisalign offer great cosmetic benefits. By wearing your retainers, you can ensure that you maintain your cosmetic results (and prevent the return of TMJ disorder) indefinitely.
TMJ disorder can disrupt your quality of life and make it difficult to speak and eat with ease. The sooner you can have your symptoms diagnosed and treated, the sooner you can return to enjoying life fully.
For most patients, the best treatment for TMJ is through orthodontic treatment. At Guymon Orthodontics, we love giving our patients incredible smiles that they are proud to show off.
We offer a warm and friendly dental home where everyone feels welcome and appreciated. To schedule your next visit, contact one of our offices online today.