Hello, and welcome back to our blog here at Camilo Riano Orthodontics. If you recall from last time, we started discussing temporomandibular joint dysfunction, a condition that causes pain in the joint that connects the mandibular (lower jaw) to the temporal bone on either side of the face. Like we discussed in our last blog, if the jaw sustains an injury or there is arthritis in the jaw, you may have difficulty chewing and your jaw may even lock up while closed or open. In this blog, we’re going to take a look at some of the top ways to treat TMD. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to give us a call for a consultation.
Best Ways Of Treating TMD
Although there is no all-in-one cure for TMD, the way you treat the condition will be heavily dependent on what caused it in the first place. If your condition is chronic or severe, you should plan on visiting a doctor and orthodontist immediately. However, if the pain is minimal, there are a few things you can try in order to alleviate the pain before seeking medical attention.
- Avoid eating hard or chewy foods. If you’re experiencing TMD of any severity, it’s best to avoid these foods because they could make your symptoms worse.
- Taking a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug like ibuprofen may help to reduce any inflammation if it’s present. If this doesn’t help, the pain is likely coming from the muscles.
- In most cases, you should avoid chewing gum. Continuous chewing will almost always make the issue worse and may cause the muscles in the jaw to become tense.
- If you haven’t been prescribed muscle relaxants, it may be helpful to find some way to relax your jaw. If you notice you’ve been clenching your teeth, try to stop.
What Long-Term Solutions Are There?
Chances are, you’re more interested in a long-term solution for TMD. Although the majority of TMD cases are not serious and the symptoms subside over time, it never hurts to be too careful.
- Physical therapy is oftentimes a good place to start when it comes to treating TMD. A physical therapist will be able to teach you stretching or strengthening exercises for the jaw and facial muscles that will reduce pain and swelling. Sometimes, hot and cold therapy or massages can help too.
- If there are muscle spasms or inflammation present in the jaw, some doctors may advise corticosteroid injections which can help to alleviate the symptoms.
- Since bruxism (grinding of the teeth) is so closely related to TMD, they often have the same risk factors. If you’re under a lot of stress, you may be grinding your teeth unconsciously, especially during the night when you’re sleeping. Your orthodontist may recommend a night guard which helps prevent this. Other orthodontic treatment could include braces which will help realign the jaw and reduce tension on the muscles.
- In worst case scenarios, surgery may be in order. This is typically only advised if the pain is severe and/or the jaw is locking up to the point where you can’t eat or speak.
Speak With An Orthodontist
The first thing you should do if you’re experiencing jaw pain and are concerned about it is to contact your orthodontist. In many cases, TMD is the result of a misaligned jaw due to misaligned teeth. After years of stress and strain on the muscles and joints, you may be experiencing a lot of pain. If you have any questions or you’re ready for an appointment, give us a call today.