TMJ Treatment Dallas
If you are suffering from TMJ symptoms like jaw pain, jaw sounds, headaches, and ear-related symptoms such as tinnitus, dizziness, or vertigo, you are probably looking for relief, but don’t know what treatments could possibly solve this enigmatic problem you’re facing. Fortunately, TMJ treatment is available, and many of the treatment options can give immediate relief.
Have You Tried Home Care?
Many cases of TMJ are mild and transient and don’t need professional care. Before you start seeking professional care, make sure you’ve tried out your home care options. Home care options for TMJ include:
- Soft food diet and other strategies for relaxing your jaw, including relaxation techniques like meditation, deep breathing, and guided imagery
- Heat applied to sore muscles
- Ice applied to swollen joints and other tissues
- Over-the-counter pain medications
- Jaw exercises
It may seem contradictory to recommend both relaxation and exercise, but this is normal for helping joint and muscle injuries to heal. You want to reduce the stress on the muscles and joints, but don’t want to eliminate it completely. Instead, you perform low-impact exercises that encourage healing rather than provide trauma.
When to Give up on Home Care
Probably the biggest risk of home care is that you will focus on home care for too long and will allow your TMJ to worsen without proper care. To avoid this, see your doctor or dentist if any of the following are true:
- Pain persists for 7 days or recurs regularly
- Symptoms worsen under home care
- Pain does not respond to over-the-counter medications at recommended dosage
- Pain keeps you up at night or prevents you from engaging in normal life activities
Pain refers to jaw pain, headaches, and other types of pain you think may be related to your TMJ. If your jaw locks in place, never try to force it closed yourself. This can seriously damage the jaw joints. Instead, seek professional care immediately.
Neuromuscular Dental CareNeuromuscular dentistry is a type of dentistry that looks at the entire jaw as an integrated system of muscles, nerves, bones, teeth, and other tissues. Because of this, it is uniquely suited to treating TMJ.
TMJ treatment with neuromuscular dentistry begins with a comprehensive TMJ diagnosis which helps us identify the exact cause and nature of your symptoms.
As part of your TMJ diagnosis, we will perform a TENS (transcutaneous electric nerve stimulation) massage. This is necessary for us to see how your jaw functions independent of muscle tension, but for many people, it’s all the treatment that’s required. Relaxing your muscles periodically may be enough to eliminate your symptoms.
For other people, the problem is malocclusion. That’s when your teeth fit together in a way that creates tension in your jaw or displaces your temporomandibular joints. In this case, we will help put your jaw in a more harmonious position using a bite splint. This is an appliance that you wear in your mouth similar to a retainer, mouthguard, or sleep apnea appliance. Depending on how serious your TMJ is, you might wear this only at night or you might wear it throughout the day. In some cases, we might temporarily bond the appliance to your teeth to help it stay in place, but normally the appliance is removable and you take it out when eating or brushing your teeth.
Many patients love the results of their appliance but don’t love the appliance. If you are in this situation, we can reshape your teeth using dental crowns so that they position your jaw the same way the appliance did. We’ll only do this after we’ve established a good track record of results with the appliance.
Supportive TMJ Treatment
TMJ is a complex disorder and sometimes treatment has to be complex, too. We understand that many patients benefit from simultaneous treatment from multiple professionals and perspectives. We are happy to work with your primary care doctor, physical therapist, acupuncturist, or other providers who are helping treat your TMJ.
TMJ surgery is generally considered a last resort. Surgical treatment of TMJ is sometimes necessary, but for many cases of TMJ, surgical risks outweigh the likely benefits.
Delaying TMJ treatment makes it more likely that surgery will be your only option, as over time progressive damage to the structures of the joint mean that you will have to have scar tissue removed or potentially replace the joint tissues with an artificial joint.