TMJ Treatment Goals
Temporomandibular joint disorders can be complicated, and the treatment may also be complicated. In treating your TMJ, we will try to achieve several goals, including:
- Relieving pain and muscle spasms
- Stabilizing the bite
- Achieving long-term relief
- Restoring the teeth
The first goal of TMJ treatment is to relieve your pain and muscle spasms. Often, we can accomplish this instantly on your first visit, thanks to TENS. MLS laser treatment helps support healing, giving you more pain relief that lasts longer.
Often, TMJ is caused by an unstable or unbalanced bite. Using the K7 evaluation system–a computerized diagnostic tool for your bite–Dr. Siegel can find the ideal rest position for your jaw. Once we’ve found this, Dr. Siegel will craft an orthotic or bite splint to help your jaw stay in this position. Over time, you will see TMJ symptoms improve and often resolve completely. Most people see these more comprehensive results after six weeks of bite splint treatment.
We can look at long-term treatment options once we’ve achieved good results with your bite splint. It’s possible to wear your splint essentially forever to control your symptoms. However, many people tire of putting their splint in every night and want a more straightforward solution. Long-term treatment options include a permanent orthotic, altering your teeth, and orthodontics that move your teeth to hold your bite comfortably.
When considering a long-term treatment solution, we want to consider reconstructive dentistry to repair any teeth or restorations damaged by TMJ. Sometimes, restoring teeth in a way that holds your jaw in place makes sense.
Home Care for TMJ
Most cases of TMJ are minor, transitory, and don’t require any treatment other than home care. First, switch to a soft diet and avoid other activities that stress your jaw, such as talking too long or loud. Also, be aware of other activities that stress your jaw, such as weightlifting, running, and other forms of exercise where you might clench your jaw or subject it to trauma. Take over-the-counter ibuprofen (e.g., Advil) or naproxen (e.g., Aleve), which can reduce swelling and help control pain. Never exceed the recommended doses on the label unless instructed by a doctor. Apply heat to sore muscles and cold to swelling joints.
If your condition doesn’t improve after a week of home care, gets worse, or if the over-the-counter medications do not control your pain, you need to seek professional care from a doctor or TMJ dentist. Also, seek professional care if your symptoms are so severe that they interfere with your daily routine.
Professional TMJ Treatment Approaches
Below are some of Dr. Siegel’s TMJ treatment options at Dental Excellence of Blue Bell.
The Bite Splint, AKA a Neuromuscular Orthotic
The bite splint is the most commonly used TMJ treatment method, which works for many TMJ patients. When your teeth and bite are at rest, they are in the ideal position as the jaw aligns balance properly. A neuromuscular appliance holds your jaw in this position to encourage optimal function and health. Some patients, over time, can use the bite splint less and less. Many of Dr. Siegel’s patients only wear it at night, and others only on some nights. However, individual experience varies.
Before we fit you with a bite splint, Dr. Siegel will take meticulous full-mouth impressions of both your bite and teeth to figure out exactly your jaw’s ideal location and position. With these impressions and measurements, a bite splint can be created. The bite splint is similar to a mouth guard in shape and design; most patients adapt well to it!
Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS)
The TENS system is a widely used method of treating TMJ Disorder. The great thing about TENS is that it is a quick and easy procedure that provides almost instant relief. Overall, the procedure takes 45 minutes at maximum!
If you suffer from neck, facial, jaw, and other symptoms, TENS can provide the relief you need. The TENS system uses electrical nerve stimulation that sends pulses to relax the nerves and stop natural pain impulses sent to the brain from the body. The TENS can even activate the natural pain-suppressing hormones housed inside our bodies.
MLS Laser Treatment
The MLS laser is an effective way to help your body heal itself from TMJ. By precisely using stimulating wavelengths, the MLS can improve blood flow in the treated area, allow the blood to release oxygen, and help the cells utilize energy more efficiently. It is very effective at controlling inflammation. Inflammation is part of the body’s healing process, but sometimes, it can get out of control and become a problem. By reducing inflammation, MLS laser treatment reduces future irritation that can interfere with healing.
MLS laser can also provide relief, especially from muscle pain, the most common source of discomfort in TMJ. With the laser-focused nature of the treatment, we can precisely target the treatment area to reduce undesired side effects.
TMJ Treatment with Dr. Siegel
Since there is no one proper way to fix a TMJ problem for all patients, dentists, including Dr. Siegel, offer a variety of treatment methods that can be used to keep the jaw joint in its proper alignment so that patients are no longer suffering from uncomfortable and painful symptoms on a routine basis. If you are ready to try TMJ treatment to treat your condition correctly come to Dr. Siegel! Scheduling an appointment is quick and easy. Just contact us online or call us at (610) 272-0828.