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TMJ Pain Relief Help From a General Dentist Office
The pain caused by TMJ (temporomandibular joints) disorders can be stressful for those who suffer from it. Simple activities such as having dinner with family or conducting a presentation in the workplace may invite distracting jaw pain or headaches. Although there are ways to help relieve the pain at home, visiting a dentist to diagnose and treat the condition can be a simple and effective solution.
Diagnosing the problem
A dentist can run a few tests first to diagnose whether the patient has TMJ. This process may be as simple as checking to see if the jaw clicks while opening and closing or as complicated as doing an MRI to investigate the tissue around the affected joints. Either way, the dentist can diagnose the issue to determine a pain-free range within the patient’s comfort zone and preference.
Discussing treatment options
Depending on the severity of the TMJ, it may go away on its own or a dentist can explore treatment options with the patient. Here are several options that may be recommended.
Although surgery is generally recommended only for more severe cases of TMJ, there are multiple options available. One of those options is a less-involved surgery called arthrocentesis. This is a simple procedure involving tiny needles that are placed within the joint. The pressure from the needles frees the joint fluid. This encourages the fluid to move within the joint and flush out anything that may be causing inflammation and pain.
If the issues are caused by the structure of the jaw joint being misshapen or misaligned, a more involved procedure known as open-joint surgery may need to take place. This surgery may require possible physical therapy, since it involves repairing or replacing the jaw joint itself. After the surgery, the dentist may place the patient on pain medications during recovery.
If the cause of TMJ is not structural issues but more so lifestyle stressors, a dentist may suggest therapy options. Everyday stress can manifest as clenching or grinding of the teeth. These behaviors may eventually cause damage to the jaw joint. Going to regular counseling sessions can help a patient combat these issues and lower internal stress levels.
A dentist may suggest physical therapy such as jaw daily stretches and exercises. There are also mouth guards to protect from grinding and clenching during sleep that can be beneficial in keeping the jaw loose and relaxed.
If the patient’s TMJ is not very serious but still causes daily discomfort, a dentist may suggest simple over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications. Additionally, if the pain is caused more by muscle tension around the joint, then muscle relaxants can help combat the issue. If over-the-counter medications do not help, then a dentist may suggest getting a prescription pain medication from the patient's doctor.
There are many options available for combating the daily pains of TMJ. If you suffer from headaches or jaw pain and you would like to learn more about receiving relief, contact a dentist today.
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