Temporomandibular Joint Disorder, or TMJ, is a condition in which the temporomandibular joint is injured causing facial muscle and nerve issues. This joint connects the jawbone to the skull, and when injured can lead to painful chewing, popping or clicking of the jaw along with swelling, tooth grinding, headaches, and more.
There are a wide variety of factors that cause this disorder including arthritis, misalignment, teeth grinding, stress or anxiety, poor posture and/or trama. Because this is found more commonly in women than in men, there is believed to be a possible link between female hormones and TMJ disorders.
8 Possible Treatments Options for TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint Disorder)
While this is not a complete list of options to treat TMJ, it does provide some of the most frequently used and recommended treatment techniques that can help to alleviate pain and discomfort from TMJ and promote healing.
1. Heat or Cold:
Applying a moist heat or cold pack to your face can help reduce inflammation and pain and encourage the healing process.
2. Lifestyle Changes:
There are a number of lifestyle changes that you can make that can help to reduce symptoms and increase healing, including avoiding eating chewy substances like candy, gum, and other dense foods, avoiding extreme jaw movements and resting your chin on your hands, and reducing overall stress.
3. Jaw Exercises:
Gently exercising your jaw may help to increase your mobility and healing. Your dentist or a physical therapist can give you insight into which exercise work best at strengthening and stretching those muscles and ligaments.
4. Pain Medications:
While this should not be a long-term solution, pain medication can help to relieve discomfort caused by TMJ. Medications that are typically recommended or prescribed are acetaminophen (Tylenol), naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), or other non-sterodial anti-inflammatory drugs.
5. Stabilization splint or bite guard:
A splint or guard can help to steady the jaw and reduce opportunities for clenching or grinding of the teeth.
A simple injection of cortisone can also be a very helpful way of reducing pain and inflammation.
7. Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS):
During this therapy a patient can receive low-level electrical currents to relax the jaw and facial muscles and reduce pain.
While this should be the last resort for treating your TMJ, surgery can help to relieve TMJ symptoms by replacing the jaw joints with artificial implants.
If you are having pain and swelling issues with your jaw, you should consult with a dentist to see what the possible causes could be. If you do find out that you are dealing with this condition, there are a number of options to treat your TMJ in which your dentist can guide you and provide recommendations for.