Jaw issues are a common source of discomfort for many people. It can cause stress on your joints that, include your teeth, neck, and head. Although TMJ is not life-threatening, it can significantly impact your quality of life if symptoms become chronic or difficult to control.

According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, up to 12 percent of the population is affected by TMJ. Read on to discover seven effective ways your dentist can help you achieve TMJ pain relief for a more enjoyable lifestyle.

What Is TMJ?

Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ) affects the joints that connect the lower jaw to the skull. It controls facial movements like speaking, chewing, smiling, and yawning. These joints enable jaws to move freely and in multiple ways.

TMJ is a common condition that affects people of all ages. TMJ can develop for a variety of reasons, including genetics, infection, arthritis, injury, and teeth grinding.

Pain and discomfort caused by TMJ are typically transient and treatable without surgery. Surgery is normally the final resort when all other therapies are ineffective, but for some, it may be beneficial.

Symptoms of TMJ

The cause of TMJ is not always obvious and can vary from person to person, but there are a few common possibilities of TMJ disorder. Some symptoms may include:

  • headaches or migraines
  • pain in the jaw, face, or ears
  • discomfort in the neck, shoulders, or back
  • pressure behind the eyes
  • misaligned teeth or jaw
  • dizziness or insomnia
  • tooth pain or sensitivity
  • restricted jaw movement
  • injury or dislocation
  • difficulty chewing or swallowing
  • jaw clicking, locking, or popping
  • facial swelling

The type of treatment you receive depends on the cause of your TMJ condition. A physical exam and imaging test such as a dental X-ray, CT scan, and MRI can be used to diagnose it.

When to See a Dentist

If your symptoms don’t improve after a few weeks or months of home treatment, you should talk to your doctor to rule out any underlying conditions. If necessary, your doctor can prescribe stronger pain medications, muscle relaxants, or antidepressants to aid in your TMJ management.

Most importantly, do your research. Patients who are well-informed can ask their doctors the right questions and choose the best course of treatment.

7 Ways a Dentist Can Help Treat TMJ

Although TMJ can be bothersome, your dentist can offer advice and guidance to help you understand the cause and cure of your discomfort. Continue reading and learn about these seven successful dental services:

1. Botox

Botox injections are quick, easy, and safely administered by your dentist. The results are effective, with many patients reporting relief within one or two days of their initial treatment.

2. Oral Splint

Occlusal guards such as bite splints, nightguards, and mouthguards provide a barrier between the upper and lower teeth. This helps stabilize the jaw and prevents teeth clenching and grinding.

3. Acupuncture

Acupuncture therapy focuses on specific acupoints to target pain in the mouth, jaw, and face. This helps minimize discomfort by relaxing the muscles and reducing muscle spasms.

4. Ultrasound Therapy

Ultrasound therapy is a non-invasive treatment that involves placing a deep-heated probe on the patient’s skin. Ultrasonic waves relieve painful joints, reduce inflammation, and relax the underlying tissue.

5. Trigger Point Therapy

Trigger point therapy is a safe, soft-tissue procedure that helps relieve knotted muscle fibers and restore balance in the TMJ. Treatment may also involve sustained pressure, posture correction, and myofascial massage.

6. Injection Therapy

A corticosteroid injection into the affected area alleviates pain and inflammation. After a day or two of treatment, you should begin to experience some improvement.

7. Laser Therapy

Lower-level laser therapy is a non-invasive light source treatment. It uses a single wavelength of light to reduce pain and discomfort while also rebuilding connective tissue and boosting circulation.

Home Remedies

Most people with TMJ have mild or occasional symptoms that may resolve on their own using simple home remedies. In addition to consulting a physician, the following TMJ cures can reduce your symptoms:

Cold Pack

Applying a cold pack to sore or stiff joints can reduce swelling, relieve discomfort, and promote healing. Apply it to the affected area for 15 minutes, every two hours.

Moist Heat

A hot pack, heat pad, or hot water bottle can help to increase blood circulation, reduce jaw tension, and improve function. Apply it to your face for 15 minutes, up to four times daily.

Soft Food

A soft diet helps reduce strain on your jaw muscles. Avoid foods that are too firm or chewy or that require you to open your mouth wide. Cut your meal into smaller pieces or use a blender to prevent overworking your jaw.

Jaw Exercises

Massaging your jaw a few times a day can help improve circulation and reduce tightness. This can also be beneficial for your face, teeth, neck, and shoulders.

Pain Relievers

If over-the-counter pain relievers are ineffective at treating your TMJ symptoms, your dentist or physician may recommend a stronger medication, such as prescription-strength ibuprofen, for a brief period.

Dental Care

Maintaining proper oral and dental care is essential for TMJ disorder treatment. This reduces the risk of dental disease and the invasive dental procedures that come with it. 

Attainable TMJ Pain Relief

Whether it’s through a payment portal, dental insurance, or a membership plan, your dentist can help you choose the financing option that works for you. With a range of patient resources available, you can be confident that you’ll receive the proper dental care when needed.

The road to optimal oral health begins in the dental office. For a positive, professional, and personalized experience, look no further than Lexington, Kentucky!

Comfort Made Simple

TMJ can be an unpleasant disruption to daily life. Fortunately, your dental specialist will prioritize your comfort by providing treatments and solutions tailored to your well-being.

Our mission is to educate patients about TMJ pain relief while providing the highest quality dental care. Contact us to put an end to your aches and pains and get back to living the comfortable life you deserve!