Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder treatment can include a variety of methods ranging from simple home remedies to surgery. Read on to know more about these methods, as well as its symptoms and causes.
An inflammation of the joint that connects the mandible or lower jaw to the skull, is known as temporomandibular joint disorder. The symptoms can vary from slight joint pain to more severe complications leading to pain in the whole facial and jaw area right up to the ears. The signs and treatment may vary according to the severity and the cause of damage in the jaw.
The disorder could be due to some factors causing damage to or weakening of the temporomandibular joint. These factors include:
- External trauma to the joint region, which can also cause its dislocation.
- Habits such as teeth grinding and clenching of the jaws can over a period of time cause TMJ disorders.
- Overstretching the lower jaw beyond its limit can cause damage to the ligaments around the temporomandibular joint, leading to development of the disorder.
- Diseases like osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis cause destruction of the cartilage around the joint leading to TMJ syndrome. While osteoarthritis is an age related disorder, rheumatoid arthritis can occur even in children.
The symptoms include acute to severe pain which may be felt in the mandibular area, and in severe cases might spread to the face, neck and ear. This ear pain may sometimes be wrongly diagnosed as an ear infection. TMJ disorder is also said to cause ear problems such as tinnitus (ringing in ears) and loss of hearing in some cases.
Another indication is difficulty in moving the lower jaw and a marked difficulty in eating or talking, as any movement of the jaws causes a lot of pain. The jaws may get locked up or scrape awkwardly against each other. Swelling could also appear in the affected area. Headaches, dizziness and nausea are also noted in some cases.
The treatment may include a variety of methods ranging from simple home remedies to surgery in some cases where more work might be required:
The use of simple home treatments include the use of common painkillers such as ibuprofen and aspirin to alleviate pain symptoms. Warm compression can be applied to the affected area and limiting food intake to only semi-fluids or fluids can provide some relief. Specific exercises may be done to maintain mobility of the joints. This includes gently opening and closing of the jaw or gentle side to side movements with compression to ease the pain. If the patient has a habit of teeth grinding, a bite guard may be placed in the mouth to prevent further gnashing of the teeth together.
External Medical Intervention
Medical intervention methods for treatment include:
- Dental Correction: Teeth structure and arrangement can be corrected to help facilitate better jaw movement. This may include the use of orthodontic braces, correction of tooth fillings and use of dentures or tooth implants.
- Arthrocentesis: This procedure is used to drain any fluid that may have accumulated around the joint due to inflammation. A sterile syringe is used for this procedure.
- Surgery: Oral or maxillofacial surgery may be used in cases of arthritis to repair the joint. At times, a whole joint replacement has to be done. TMJ surgery is usually not recommended unless there is a serious necessity or some major re-constructive work that has to be done.
These were some of the methods of treatment which could be used to help speed up the patient’s recovery. TMJ disorder can be prevented by understanding the causes of joint pain and any impending risk related to the problem. If you have a habit of chewing gum or biting your nails, these habits must be stopped, as they can, over a period of time, lead to this disorder. Teeth grinding at night and clenching the jaw constantly can also lead to jaw pain and if you have these problems, a dentist could provide you with a splint as a remedy to this problem.