TMJ Dysfunction Treatment


Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders are problems that cause pain and dysfunction in the muscles and joint responsible for jaw movement.

TMJ disorders can range in severity from being a nuisance to being a problem that causes those suffering to alter their lives. When less severe, biting down can shoot a bolt of pain through the jaw joint, but with time and simple home care, the pain may subside. But with severe TMJ disorders, the most simple tasks---such as eating or talking---can become unbearably agonizing.

For some suffering from TMJ disorder, the disc within the jaw joint slips out of position during sleep. Upon waking they're unable to open their mouth more than 10 millimeters (the normal opening is approximately 50 millimeters).

Symptoms of TMJ Disorder may include:

  • Pain in the chewing muscles, jaw, or Temporalmandibular joint
  • Pain in the jaw, neck, or face
  • Stiff jaw muscles
  • A jaw that locks or has limited movement
  • Painful clicking, popping, or grating in the jaw joint
  • Changes / misalignment in the fit between upper and lower teeth

Treatment of TMJ Disorders
In some cases, the symptoms of TMJ disorders may subside without treatment, or simple home care. However, if your symptoms persist or get worse, a variety of treatment options are available.

In conjunction with other non-surgical treatments, medications that may help relieve the pain associated with TMJ disorders may include:
Pain Relievers: If over-the-counter pain medications aren't strong enough to relieve TMJ pain, we may prescribe stronger pain relievers.
Tricyclic Antidepressants: These medications, such as amitriptyline, used to be used mostly for depression, but now are also used for pain relief.
Muscle Relaxers: These drugs are sometimes used for a few days (or weeks) to help relieve pain caused by TMJ disorders.
Sedatives: May be prescribed for nighttime teeth clenching which stresses and aggravates the Temporomandibular joint.

Non-Pharmaceutical Treatments / Therapies
For some TMJ cases, the most effective treatments may be non-pharmaceutical therapies, such as:
Bite Guards: Patients with TMJ pain may benefit from wearing a bite guard device inserted over their teeth.
Physical Therapy: Treatments may include ultrasound, moist heat and/or ice in conjunction with exercises to stretch and strengthen jaw muscles.
Counseling: Education and counseling can help you understand the factors and behaviors that may aggravate your pain, so you can avoid them. Examples include teeth clenching or grinding, leaning on your chin, or biting fingernails.

Additional Treatment Options
In extreme cases and/or TMJ disorders where pharmaceutical and/or non-pharmaceutical therapies are unable to provide relief, we may suggest procedures such as:
Arthrocentesis: A procedure involving the insertion of needles into the joint so fluid can be irrigated through the joint to remove debris and inflammatory byproducts.
Corticosteroid Injections: In some patients, corticosteroid injections into the TMJ (to reduce inflammation) may be helpful.

If you are experiencing symptoms of TMJ Disorder and would like to learn more about treatment options, please call our office at (719) 597-6300 for a consultation.