TMJ is the term used for Temporomandibular joint, which is the joint that connects your jaw to your skull. When this joint is injured or damaged, it can lead to pain, difficulty chewing, clicking and popping, headaches, locked jaw, and other issues.
There are various types of treatments and approaches to treating TMJ issues or at least reducing the pain and symptoms. However, some of these can do more harm than good so before you try any of them, consider the impact on your overall health.
Most people that have occasional pain will use over-the-counter or prescription pain medication to deal with their symptoms. But if the pain is chronic, then the impact of those medications may cause long term damage to your heart or liver. Taking the occasional anti-inflammatory, pain reliever, or muscle relaxant can be a quick and simple solution to symptoms that occur once in a while. But if your symptoms are constant and you are taking medication all the time, consider a more permanent solution to your condition.
A common dental appliance, known as a nightguard, is worn at night when you sleep, to reduce the clenching or grinding you may be doing when you are asleep. Nightguards are a simple, non-invasive way to treat many TMJ or bite issues, and work for many people but if your symptoms don’t resolve, or the night guard is not fitting you well, then leaving your condition to get worse may result in more pain, and more invasive procedures needed later on.
Sometimes, when regular pain medication is not effective in treating your symptoms, your doctor may proscribe tricyclic antidepressants. These medications can reduce the level of symptoms you experience but if you have to be on them for a long period of time, then you are really not treating the cause and rather masking it with medication that is meant for depression rather than TMJ pain. If you are taking this type of medication for TMJ rather than depression, consider speaking with a neuromuscular dentist in order to diagnose and treat your condition so you can stop taking this medication.
Botox can be a very effective treatment of pain related to TMJ or migraines and we’ve used it as an alternative option for some patients in order to provide relief of their symptoms. Botox is injected into the muscles responsible for tightening and pain and, in some cases, can be a great option for pain relief. Botox, however, has to be administered every three months in order to remain effective, and if you get relief from your pain with Botox, but want to learn about a more permanent solution, speak with your neuromuscular dentist about other options.
No well-designed studies have shown chiropractic to be effective in treating TMJ problems. However, some chiropractors say that manipulation of the joint and nearby areas in the upper spine may improve TMJ symptoms. In these cases, chiropractors believe that manipulation helps the joint to move better (increase the range of motion). The main concern with manipulation of the jaw joint is that it can result in displacement of the disc cartilage that is supposed to cushion and protect the joint during opening and closing, as well as change the bite, which can lead to further TMJ problems and need for more invasive intervention.
There is a new trend among some people to use essential oils for any issue or ailment. Some “wellness advocates” claim that essential oils can treat everything from minor irritations and mood swings to autism and cognitive decline. But ongoing use of essential oils has resulted in a growing number of people experiencing chemical burns, allergic reactions, respiratory issues, and other side effects. There is credible science behind certain benefits for some essential oils but these need to be chosen wisely and not used indiscriminately.
To find out if your symptoms of TMJ can be treated and resolved, contact us to schedule a consultation.