Treatments for TMJ disorders (Temporomandibular Joint Disorders or TMD) vary based on the root cause and severity of the problem. Hence, there are a variety of treatment options available. Some dentists specialize in treatments for TMJ, and Dr. Yanni is one of those dentists. These dentists are well suited to recommending and executing the appropriate steps to diagnose, offer treatments for TMJ, or prevent these issues. TMJ disorders can be caused by night time teeth grinding due to stress or other factors, night time teeth grinding. It can also be caused by arthritis, trauma, or alignment problems. Often, there is no obvious cause for TMJ problems.
Medications are the least invasive of the methods used to treat jaw problems. Pain relievers are the first type of medication treatment that can be used to treat TMD, but these only treat the symptoms. This usually starts with over the counter medication, and can include NSAIDS to help reduce inflammation. They can be used alone or in tandem with other treatments and possibly sedation dentistry. If over the counter pain medications are not sufficient, the dentist can step up the medications to stronger forms of pain relievers. Tri Cyclic Antidepressants are another type of medication that can be offered as treatments for TMJ disorders. Muscle relaxants can also be prescribed, and are particularly effective in helping to relieve stress and pain originating in the muscles of the jaw. Night time teeth clenching or teeth grinding can often be reduced or elimated with the use of a sedative such as clonazepam.
The next level of treatments for TMJ disorders include various therapies, and these include a wide variety of options. Bite guards, also known as oral splints, are made of a heat formed acrylic resin. Medical studies have shown them to be very effective, but it is not truly known how they produce results. Physical therapy is another treatment option, and can be custom designed for the needs of each patient. The use of moist heat and ice can help, as can ultrasound and specific exercises to stretch the muscles of the jaw. Counseling may be effective for patients that are suffering from high stress levels and are grinding or clenching their teeth as a result.
Sometimes educating the TMD patient can help the patient identify the behavioral tendencies that are the cause of the jaw problem. These behaviors can include such things as the obvious clenching or grinding of the teeth, but can include other things such as nail biting or chewing on a pen or pencil, leaning on one’s chin, and more.
Surgical intervention can be as simple and subtle as injecting corticosteroids to reduce inflammation, and as complex as rinsing the joint space to remove loose bone and cartilage debris and inflammatory fluid. Botox can be used to forcibly relax the muscles of the jaw and reduce the stress on the joint. More invasive treatments for TMJ include surgical procedures can be used to repair or replace the joint if necessary.