Conservative Options for Treatment of Temporomandibular Joint Disorder

Man With Aching JawAbout 10 million Americans suffer from some form of the temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD). TMJ disorder can be very painful and uncomfortable and disrupt your ability to perform any kind of activity. Fortunately, it is a well-documented disease and managed by both physicians and dentists. You have more than one management option. Here, we present some of the treatment approaches offered by medical professionals for treatment of temporomandibular joint dislocation and related problems.

Approach to treatment

Although the pain and discomfort are usually due to problems in the joint, most doctors and dentists choose conservative management. Before recommending open surgery of the joint, doctors employ a treatment program consisting of pharmacological, rehabilitative, and prophylactic methods to improve symptoms, according to Tmj.com.

Pharmacological management: Medications to relieve TMD symptoms

The pain and inflammation usually respond to NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). If the doctor prescribed medication, make sure not to go over or under the dosage. If the pain you feel in the area of the TMJ radiates to other parts of the neck and face and has been persistent the approach may change. Chronic pain responds better to tricyclic antidepressants. Sometimes, the doctor prescribes muscle relaxants as well, especially when the physical examination reveals spasm of the jaw muscles. Sedatives are given to people who tend to grind the teeth, along with relaxation exercises and adjuvant therapies to relieve stress.

Non-surgical management: Intra-oral appliances

Certain devices are specially designed for TMD management. Reversible appliances are helpful in cases where there are significant pain and loss of function during chewing. Some of these devices are classified under mouth guards, bite appliances, stabilization appliances, and occlusal splints, among others. Most of the time, you will be asked to wear the appliance for less than six months. You have to consult your doctor regularly for monitoring and follow-up when a TMJ device is part of the management.

Medications help reduce pain and swelling, while TMJ appliances relieve stresses on the jaw and the affected joint. These comprise conservative TMD management approaches, along with exercises to improve mobility and muscle strength.