Pain and suffering from TMD can range from mild and intermittent to severe and ongoing or incapacitating. Treatment for TMD may vary from person to person depending on the severity of the pain and any accompanying disabilities. Depending on the identified causes, other treatment methods are also available.
The illness is frequently treatable by patient self-care if your symptoms are not interfering with your daily activities and the discomfort can be rated as a one or three on a ten-point scale. Treatment options that fall under the category of self-care include:
- Apply cold and hot compresses: Applying an ice pack or cold compress to the affected area will reduce swelling and inflammation for 10 to 15 minutes. Improved circulation and pain relief can also be achieved by applying moist heat to the area for 10 to 15 minutes.
- Exercises and face stretches can help relieve jaw strain. A doctor or physical therapist may recommend certain stretches. To stretch the jaw muscles and release unneeded muscle tension, perform the prescribed exercises as directed.
- Eating soft, little foods will make it easier to swallow than hard, crunchy, chewy, thick, or huge foods. Examples of such foods are soup, scrambled eggs, yogurt, beans, cooked, diced fruits, and vegetables. Salad is an example of a dish that should be avoided if you have a painful joint since it is chewy.
- Use painkillers to manage your discomfort: Naproxen and other over-the-counter painkillers can help you feel less pain and inflammation. Stronger painkillers may also be recommended by a doctor for pain relief. By relaxing the jaw muscles, prescription muscle relaxants may help those who grind their teeth. Antidepressants in low doses have also been reported to lessen pain.
- Avoid moving your jaw with high tension. This can put strain on the joint and the muscles that open and close your mouth, which can interfere with pain-relieving treatments. Keep your chewing and yawning to a minimal. Avoid singing or shouting as well. When talking on the phone or using a computer, good posture should be kept. Do not tighten your jaw. Practice maintaining your teeth apart by softly placing your tongue behind your upper front teeth on the roof of your mouth. The jaw’s muscle tension can be reduced by using stress-reduction strategies, which will also help reduce some of the discomfort and swelling brought on by TMD.
- Use oral appliances for correction: The strain on the jaw muscles and joint may be lessened with the aid of dental equipment. It has not been demonstrated to be useful to permanently alter the bite through major crown or bridge work, and orthodontics may make TMD symptoms worse. Wearing a splint or night guard while you sleep can help if grinding or clenching your teeth is a contributing issue. Although teeth grinding and clenching cannot be avoided, using an oral appliance helps reduce joint and muscle pain and tooth deterioration. The intention is for TMD symptoms to lessen when the afflicted area goes through a period of less irritability and use. Be aware that there are numerous possible splint designs. You should choose an appliance for use based on your symptoms and needs. Every appliance functions differently.
And in certain cases, the discomfort and invasiveness of the TMD problem are so severe that more invasive treatment alternatives are necessary. Before opting for any intrusive procedure, though, special consideration must be made. Surgery is frequently irreversible and is still debatable because no studies or research have established its efficacy. There are three only a few forms of surgery that may be explored if surgery is being considered after all other treatment options have failed to provide adequate relief:
- Arthrocentesis: Of all procedures, this one is the least intrusive. In order to lessen inflammation, steroids are injected into the joint.
- Arthroscopy: A tiny camera is introduced through a tiny incision in front of the ear to guide this process. The camera enables the physician to check the temporomandibular joint and identify a contributing factor, such as tissue inflammation or a misplaced disc or joint, that may be the root of the TMJ disorder. The doctor can then fix the condition by removing inflammatory tissue or changing the joint’s position.
- A surgeon may need to open the TMJ region to gain full access to the temporomandibular joint for diagnosis and treatment if arthroscopic surgery is not an option for any variety of reasons.