In some cases, TMJ syndrome just simply goes away without any need for treatment. The discomfort you feel in your jawline may disappear over time with the help of minor remedies and some medications, but if the condition is not getting any better, you may consider other treatment options.
For mild TMJ problems, you can resort to self-care treatments that include home remedies. A few examples are eating only soft foods that do not require a lot of chewing or munching, applying warm compress on the affected area and avoiding frequent jaw movements such as gum chewing, singing, and laughing out loud. You can also perform massages around the jaw area or gently stretch your jaws to flex the muscle there. But remember that it is always best to seek professional help first before doing any self-therapy.
TMJ disorder can be treated with over-the-counter non-steroidal painkillers like ibuprofen or naproxen and other anti-inflammatory drugs. These medications provide temporary relief, but if the doctor sees the need to prescribe you with stronger medicines, you may be given tricyclic antidepressants and muscle relaxants. Although these meds cannot guarantee complete treatment of your condition, taking them can at least will at least give you relief from any pain or discomfort that you may have.
When applied home remedies and medications are of little help in treating your TMJ disorder, you may require treatment. Physical therapy involving exercise of your jaw and neck muscles can contribute to improving strength and flexibility. Splint therapy makes use of bite guards or oral splints inserted over the teeth to prevent you from teeth grinding. And there’s also counseling to help you understand the causes and the behaviors that may heighten the level of pain, and how to address it properly. Some of these behaviors are teeth clenching, nail biting, wide yawning and resting on your chin.
A more serious case requires more complex TMJ treatment that will make use of surgical options, but this is usually a dental surgeon's last resort. Some procedures will involve a sterile solution to flush the TMJ joint, applying a shot of cortisone in the affected area, or sometimes the need to perform a surgical procedure. This intervention will require replacement of the jaw joint which is not often recommended by dental surgeons and should be avoided if possible. Arthrocentesis or TMJ arthroscopy is another procedure using an injection of needles into the jaw joint to take out debris and is usually done in an outpatient set-up.
If you have pain or discomfort in your jaw, neck, ears or head, please schedule an appointment with us by calling (707) 257-2400. We can check if it’s caused by TMJ and recommend the appropriate treatment.