The joint between the upper and lower jawbones is called the temporomandibular joint. Many people experience pain in and near this joint, which can radiate to the neck, head, and shoulders. Pain is often accompanied by grinding, popping, and clicking noises in the joint. Your dentist may diagnose you with temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD) if you suffer from these symptoms. Read on to learn about TMD treatment options.
Habit Correction and Oral Appliances
Dentists agree that trying the least-invasive treatments first is the best approach to treating TMD. For initial treatment, your dentist may recommend that you:
- Use hot and cold packs to loosen muscles and reduce inflammation.
- Learn techniques to stretch, massage, and relax your jaw muscles.
- Avoid any type of activity that makes your symptoms worse. For example, chewing gum, resting your chin in your hand, and chewing hard or crunchy foods.
- Try keeping your teeth slightly apart to prevent clenching.
- Learn relaxation techniques or seek cognitive behavior therapy to help you manage stress.
- Try a splint or night guard to prevent clenching and grinding your teeth overnight.
- Use over-the-counter pain medications like acetaminophen and ibuprofen to reduce inflammation and pain.
Oral and Injectable Medications
If you’ve tried the above suggestions but pain persists, seek further assistance from your dentist to find treatment. Some treatments that may prove effective include the following:
- Use of muscle relaxants for a few days may reduce TMD pain.
- Anti-depressants have proven helpful in treating TMD.
- Botox injections into the chewing muscles may also alleviate pain from clenching.
- Your doctor may recommend injections of corticosteroid drugs into the jaw joint to reduce inflammation and pain.
As a last resort, your dentist may recommend further procedures, orthodontic treatment, or even surgery to address your TMD pain. These invasive treatments should be carefully considered and discussed with your dentist and physician.
Dr. Kenn Kakosian, DDS offers comprehensive general and cosmetic dentistry care to the residents of NYC. From teeth whitening to Invisalign, Dr. Kakosian, DDS has the skills and experience to help you care for your teeth. Learn more about our practice by calling (212) 661-0949 today!