Treatment Options for TMJ Disorder

Temporomandibular joint disorder, sometimes referred to as TMJ or TMD, is a common problem among American adults. It produces a wide variety of symptoms, often making it difficult to diagnose. Once it has been diagnosed, however, a variety of treatments can be employed to eliminate the discomfort of TMJ disorder.

TMJ disorder occurs when the temporomandibular joint becomes misaligned. This joint, where the mandible, or lower jaw, meets the temporal bone of the skull, is located near a number of facial and cranial nerves. When it becomes misaligned, it can compress these nerves, leading to symptoms ranging from persistent headaches to discomfort in the ear, shoulders, neck or jaw.

Once your dentist makes a diagnosis of TMD, he can determine the best approach to treatment. In extreme cases, surgery might be necessary, but this is relatively rare.

Long-term treatment for TMJ disorder involves restoring the joint’s natural alignment. This can be accomplished by making changes to the bite using crowns, veneers, or even orthodontic procedures. Other treatments can include:

Using a special appliance worn at night to hold the jaw in alignment

Reducing overall stress, which can contribute to TMD

Medication to reduce discomfort

Relaxation techniques to release the muscles holding the jaw out of alignment

Massage, use of heat and cold on uncomfortable areas, and modified eating habits can also help alleviate TMD symptoms. Hard or chewy foods and gum-chewing can greatly increase symptoms if you are suffering from TMD, so these should be avoided.

If you are experiencing any symptoms of TMD, please contact the office of Dr. Darren K. Dickson, a DDS in Plano for information on how treatment can help you.

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