Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ) - Treatments

What treatment has been effective for your temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder?

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What is the treatment for TMJ disorders?

The mainstay of treatment for acute TMJ pain is heat and ice, soft diet, and anti-inflammatory medications.

1. Jaw rest: It can be beneficial to keep the teeth apart as much as possible. It is also important to recognize when tooth grinding is occurring and devise methods to cease this activity. Patients are advised to avoid chewing gum or eating hard, chewy, or crunchy foods such as raw vegetables, candy, or nuts. Foods that require opening the mouth widely, such as a big hamburger, are also not recommended.

2. Heat and ice therapy: These assist in reducing muscle tension and spasm. However, immediately after an injury to the TMJ, treatment with cold applications is best. Cold packs can be helpful for relieving pain.

3. Medications: Anti-inflammatory medications such as aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil and others), naproxen (Aleve and others), or steroids can help control inflammation. Muscle relaxants, such as diazepam (Valium), aid in decreasing muscle spasms. In certain situations, local injection of cortisone preparations (methylprednisolone [Depo-Medrol], triamcinolone [Kenalog], Celestone) into the TMJ may be helpful.

4. Physical therapy: Passively opening and closing the jaw, massage, and electrical stimulation help to decrease pain and increase the range of motion and strength of the joint.

5. Stress management: Stress support groups, psychological counseling, and medications can also assist in reducing muscle tension. Biofeedback helps people recognize times of increased muscle activity and spasm and provides methods to help control them.

6. Occlusal therapy: A custom-made acrylic appliance (mouth guard) that fits over the teeth is commonly prescribed for night but may be required throughout the day. It acts to balance the bite and reduce or eliminate teeth grinding or clenching (bruxism).

7. Correction of bite abnormalities: Corrective dental therapy, such as orthodontics, may be required to correct an abnormal bite. Dental restorations assist in creating a more stable bite. Adjustments of bridges or crowns act to ensure proper alignment of the teeth.

8. Surgery: Surgery is indicated in those situations in which medical therapy has failed. It is done as a last resort. TMJ arthroscopy, ligament tightening, joint restructuring, and joint replacement are considered in the most severe cases of joint damage or deterioration.

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See what others are saying

Comment from: agent777, 35-44 Male (Patient) Published: May 09

When I was 19 I had two wisdom teeth removed, and during the operation I suddenly felt a tremendous pain in my jaw, so severe the dentist had to stop immediately. I was afterword's informed by a dental surgeon that I was suffering from TMJ. I am now 35, and the only thing that has helped has been a low dose of diazepam before bed. This has been working for me for about 12 years. Hope this was helpful.

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Comment from: SoreJaw, 19-24 Female (Patient) Published: March 28

I have been clenching my teeth for years and began grinding them as soon as I got my braces off (3 years ago). I wear a bite plain which protects my teeth from being damaged, but doesn't stop me from clenching or grinding. I still wake up throughout the night and in the morning with an extremely sore jaw and can tell that I was grinding all night. 5 months ago, I got lock jaw for the first time. It was SO painful. I went to the doctor right away and she gave me muscle relaxants. I took 2 of them, fell asleep, and when I woke up, I yawned and my jaw unlocked! ALTHOUGH, my jaw (and I) have not been the same since. My jaw never went back to how it was before lock jaw. It has never opened as wide, and has never opened without pain. I have muscle spasms, a pinched nerve in my neck, and ear and head aches. Turns out I have a slipped disc and scar tissue build-up in my left jaw joint and I am going for my scope surgery consultation tomorrow. If this surgery doesn't fix my problem, I don't know what I'll do! I can't imagine living the rest of my life with these jaw issues and I would not wish this on anyone! The only advice I can give for temporary relief is extra strength Robaxacet. It works wonders when I'm in severe pain, although, I don't want to rely on pills forever.

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