The pain that people who have temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD) feel makes it difficult for them to speak and eat. Fortunately, the condition, which affects over three million people, can be treated.
TMD pain and treatment options
The temporomandibular joint is a joint that acts like a hinge that connects the jawbone to the skull, with one on each side of the jaw. TMD causes pain in the joints and muscle in the jaw that control the movement of the jaw.
What causes TMD?
The cause of TMD is difficult to determine because there are many factors that contribute to the disorder, including arthritis, injuries to the jaw and genetics. People that grind their teeth also tend to have jaw pain.
Does TMD require surgery to fix?
For most people, the discomfort and pain associated with TMD are temporary, which means it can be treated without undergoing surgery. In rare cases, surgery is performed as a last resort if the pain persists and non-invasive methods do not work.
What are the symptoms of TMD?
The symptoms of TMD disorder include:
- Pain while chewing food
- A locking of joints, which makes it difficult to open the mouth
- Pain in and around the ear
- Pain in the jaw
- Pain in the temporomandibular joints
People who experience any of the symptoms should make an appointment with a dentist to discuss treatment options.
Treatment of TMD disorder
The pain associated with TMD is temporary in most cases, which means the symptoms may go away without treatment. However, if the symptoms persist the person should see their dentist to discuss treatment options.
For most cases, dentists and doctors recommend pain relievers and anti-inflammatory drugs to treat the pain. If the over-the-counter medication is not strong enough to manage the pain, the dentist will prescribe something stronger to deal with the pain.
Dentists might also prescribe amitriptyline, which is used primarily to treat depression but also works as an effective painkiller. Dentists have also had a lot of success using muscle relaxants to treat the pain associated with TMD.
If one does not want to take drugs for the pain, therapy is another option that can offer relief from the pain. The dentist can recommend the use of oral splints or mouth guards to deal with the pain. Physical therapy treatments, like the application of heat and ice to the affected area, have also been successful in relieving the pain.
Counseling is used as a way to help patients understand what triggers the pain and how to avoid them. Bad habits, like biting fingernails and grinding the teeth, are examples of those factors.
TMD can be treated with a few home remedies, including stretching and massaging the jaw muscles or using a cold compress or a heated towel on the face to reduce the pain.
TMD can be painful, fortunately, it is also treatable. If you have TMD and want to get treatment, schedule an appointment with your dentist to go over your treatment options.
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