Services / Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ) Treatment
TMJ diseases and disorders are a group of conditions that cause pain in and around the jaw joint (called the Temporomandibular Joint or TMJ) and nearby muscles. Jaw problems affect a person’s ability to speak, eat, chew, swallow, and even breathe. This is a serious disease and you should definitly visit your dentist to prevent further advancment of the TMJ.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF TMJ DISEASES AND DISORDERS?
Pain is the most common symptom; however, some people have no pain but still have problems using their jaws. Symptoms can
- Face pain
- Pain in the jaw joint and nearby areas, including the ear
- Being unable to open the mouth comfortably
- Clicking, popping or grating sounds in the jaw joint
- Locking of the jaw when attempting to open the mouth
- A bite that is uncomfortable or feels “off”
- Neck, shoulder, and back pain
- Swelling on the side of the face
Other symptoms may include: ringing in the ears, ear pain, decreased hearing, dizziness, and vision problems.
Keep in mind that occasional discomfort in the jaw joint or chewing muscles is common and is not a cause for concern. Many people with TMJ problems get better without treatment. Often the problem goes away on its own in several weeks to months.
WHAT CAUSES TMJ DISEASES AND DISORDERS?
Not all causes are known. Some possible causes are injuries to the jaw area, various forms of arthritis, some dental procedures, stretching of the jaw as occurs with inserting a breathing tube before surgery, and clenching or grinding of teeth.
HOW ARE TMJ DISEASES AND DISORDERS TREATED?
Because most common jaw joint and muscle problems are temporary, lasting only weeks or months, simple care is all that is usually needed to relieve the discomfort. Self-care practices, for example, eating soft foods, applying ice or moist heat, and avoiding extreme jaw movements (such as wide yawning, loud singing, and gum chewing) are useful in easing symptoms.
Unfortunately, treatments are based largely on beliefs that are not grounded in thorough scientific research. As a result, some patients are made worse by these treatments.
According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research of the National Institutes of Health, TMJ treatments should be reversible whenever possible. That means that the treatment should not cause permanent changes to the jaw or teeth. Examples of reversible treatments are:
- Over-the-counter pain medications
- Prescription medications
- Gentle jaw stretching and relaxation exercises
- Stabilization splints (biteplate, nightguard)
According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research of the National Institutes of Health, irreversible treatments have not been proven to work and may make the problem worse. Examples of irreversible treatments are:
- Adjustment of the bite by grinding the teeth
- Extensive dental work
- Mandibular repositioning splints
- Surgical procedures including replacement of all or parts of the jaw joint
ARE TREATMENTS FOR TMJ DISEASES AND DISORDERS COVERED BY INSURANCE?
Many medical and dental insurance plans do not pay for the treatment of jaw joint and muscle disorders, or only pay for some procedures. Contact your insurance company to see which treatments are covered.