How Does a Dentist Treat TMJ?

Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders impact the complex joints that allow your jaw to work on either side of your face. These disorders can cause mild symptoms such as jaw clicking or grinding noises to constant discomfort and inability to open your mouth all the way. It’s estimated that over 10 million Americans suffer from some type of TMJ disorder [1].

Your dentist is an integral part of treating jaw and bite disorders, but how does a dentist treat TMJ? Treatment for TMJ has shifted over the years to include more conservative approaches to managing the disorder. Here’s how your dentist may treat your TMJ.

Start by Identifying Potential Underlying Causes

Your dentist will typically begin by identifying any potential underlying causes for your TMJ discomfort. TMJ pain can often be caused by stress, teeth grinding (bruxism), and even arthritis in the joints. One study found that 78% of people with TMJ had bruxism [2].

There are even lifestyle factors that can contribute to TMJ discomfort, such as chewing gum too much, having poor posture, and a misaligned bite. By conducting an exam of your jaw and asking a few questions, your dentist may be able to determine what the best method for your treatment would be.

Move Forward With Conservative Treatment

If your dentist finds any potential underlying causes of your TMJ symptoms, they’ll typically try to resolve those before moving forward with other treatment options. However, if there aren’t any triggers present that could be causing your TMJ, your dentist will likely suggest moving forward with conservative treatment.

These treatments could include [3]:

  • Jaw exercises. Your dentist may suggest specific jaw exercises to help alleviate tension and discomfort in your jaw and temporomandibular joints.
  • Relaxation techniques. If stress is suspected to be the cause of your TMJ, you may
    consider identifying triggers to help you reduce stress and improve wellbeing.
  • Lifestyle changes. From eating softer foods to avoiding gum, you may be able to treat
    your TMJ using lifestyle changes suggested by your dentist.

If none of these treatments help, your dentist may move forward with recommending additional diagnostics.

Consider Additional Diagnostics

To determine if there’s something else going on with your temporomandibular joints, your dentist may take x-rays or refer you to get a CT scan or MRI. These scans can help identify if there’s an issue with your joints such as arthritis, potentially a tumor, or another issue that’s causing your discomfort.

Based on their findings, your dentist may recommend an oral splint to wear—called an occlusal appliance, which helps reposition the jaw to relieve discomfort—physical therapy, or even corticosteroid injections or surgery [4]. It all depends on what could be causing your TMJ and the treatment that your dentist feels will be the least invasive with the most benefits.

Do You Suffer From TMJ Pain?

If you suffer from TMJ discomfort, there are treatment options available, many of which are non-invasive and include a few simple lifestyle changes. Follow up with your dentist today to discuss your TMJ treatment options!

Sources:
1. https://www.nidcr.nih.gov/sites/default/files/2017-12/tmj-disorders.pdf
2. https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/A_new_way_for_TMJ
3. https://www.nidcr.nih.gov/health-info/tmj/more-info#treatment
4. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/tmj/diagnosis-treatment/drc-

Summary
How Does a Dentist Treat TMJ?
Article Name
How Does a Dentist Treat TMJ?
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Your dentist is an integral part of treating jaw and bite disorders, but how does a dentist treat TMJ? Treatment for TMJ has shifted over the years to include more conservative approaches to managing the disorder. Here’s how your dentist may treat your TMJ.
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Potomac Family Dentistry
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Dr. Ahmed Uthman
Dr. Uthman also began practicing general dentistry in 1997, and went on to gain advanced training in orthodontics in 2006. He is dedicated to his patients, and strives to provide treatments that address the underlying issues that cause most cosmetic conditions. He has a great amount of compassion for his patients, and believes that having a long lasting doctor/patient relationship helps to increase the quality and effectiveness of care. Due to his commitment to a high standard of care and additional training, Dr. Uthman is also recognized as an Invisalign Preferred Provider. Dr. Uthman spends much of his free time with his wife and daughters. He enjoys watching soccer matches, playing tennis, and has recently taken up golf as well. Dr. Uthman is trilingual, speaking Kurdish, Arabic, and English.