Treating TMJ Disorders with the Help of a Periodontist

Treating TMJTMJ refers to the Temporomandibular joint and muscles that connect the lower jaw to the skull. When there is a disorder that affects this area, it may cause problems with chewing and speaking. Disorders may also cause intense pain. If these
disorders are suspected, patients should visit a periodontist for help treating TMJ.

Symptoms of TMJ Disorder

Patients may experience the following TMJ disorder symptoms:

  • Locking of the jaw
  • Difficulty opening and closing the mouth
  • Earaches
  • Headaches
  • Clicking or popping sound when opening the mouth
  • Pain or tenderness in the jaw
  • Facial pain

Causes of TMJ Disorder

The cause of TMJ disorders is often difficult to pinpoint. Patients may have had grinding or clenching disorders which caused the joints to lock up and weaken. Patients may also have damage to the structures around the joint, including the muscles of the face and neck, the cartilage of the face, the ligaments and nerves, and the teeth. Poor posture, stress, and structural misalignments may also lie at the root of disorders and the processes needed for treating TMJ.

Why Periodontists Instead of Physicians?

Since TMJ disorders cause pain, patients often go to a physician for TMJ disorders. However, physicians may not recognize the symptoms of a TMJ disorder and may not be properly equipped to treat the condition. A periodontist is familiar with TMJ symptoms and will understand the best course of action for treatment.

TMJ Treatment Methods

Treatment for TMJ may vary depending on the cause and symptoms of the disorder. If a clenching or grinding issue is at the root of the disorder, periodontists may prescribe dental splints or mouth guards. Anti-inflammatory medications may be prescribed to treat inflammation that is causing TMJ issues. Surgery or corrective devices may be required to fix alignment problems. In some cases, patients have found Transcutaneous Electric Nerve Therapy, ultrasounds, and laser therapy to be helpful.

Home TMJ Treatments

If TMJ symptoms are not severe, physicians may recommend nothing but home treatments. Home treatment may also help to supplement other forms of TMJ treatment. Most home treatment addresses inflammation, using ice packs or over the counter medications to reduce swelling. Massaging of the jaw may help to greatly ease pain and reduce tension in the jaw.

TMJ Patients may also find it helpful to:

  • Eat softer foods
  • Avoid opening the mouth very wide
  • Avoid caffeine
  • Rest the jaw muscles often
  • Relax to reduce stress