Luckily, TMJ/TMD is treatable most of the time.
Simple cases of TMJ can be treated with anti-inflammatory medications and a hot/moist compress.
Treatment for more complex cases usually consist of two phases:
Phase I :
Generally speaking, it includes the fabrication of an orthotic. An orthotic is an acrylic device that is worn on the lower teeth 24 hours a day. The orthotic is designed to reposition the jaw to the correct neuromuscular position.
First we analyze the bite, decide which muscles are causing the pain, and where the current position of the bone is and the disc. All this is done with the aid of advanced equipment like the TENS unit, K7 jaw tracking, Sonography, EMG's and advanced x-rays like Tomography, CT Scans and MRI's of the TMJ.
This will help us determine the best and most comfortable position of the TMJ and the muscles. Once that position is determined, we place the orthotic on the lower teeth to keep the TMJ in that position.
Orthotics usually are worn for 4-6 months or until most of the symptoms are relieved. Once an orthotic is in use, the symptoms start gradually disappearing until we reach a point that both the doctor and the patient are satisfied with. This concludes Phase I of the treatment.
After 4-6 months of relief and when the patient is no longer suffering from any TMD symptoms, Phase II will be considered. Phase II includes any of the following:
- Wearing a long term removable orthotic, full time or part time.
- Replace missing teeth.
- Orthodontic treatment (Braces).
- Restore all the lower and/or upper teeth with crowns and veneers to preserve the optimal occlusion (bite) that was achieved with the orthotic in phase I.
Most of the time, any of the above could be considered and chosen, depending on the patients' preferences and financial capability. If you are currently suffering from TMD, it is too early to think of phase II at this time, since it is important to get you out of your pain and symptoms.
Denture patients with TMJ/TMD:
Many patients complain that when they received dentures, they noticed pain in the jaw, headaches, ear problems and other symptoms. Sometimes taking the dentures out will relieve those symptoms.
If your dentures are not made to the correct bite, or vertical dimension, it will most likely cause these symptoms. Simple adjustments could get rid of these symptoms, but sometimes a whole new set of dentures need to be made according to the neuromuscular principles, to get rid of your headaches or jaw pain.
Bite splints (plates) are effective in relieving TMD symptoms.
A bite splint provides an acrylic platform to bite against. Some bite plates move the mandible to a new position.
Generally, splints are worn part-time and for most people night time seems to be the best time to wear them.
This state-of-the-art jaw tracking system helps diagnose TMJ Dysfunction (TMD) by tracking the jaw movement.
Research shows that there are certain jaw movements which show very specific types of TMJ dysfunction. For example, limited opening and closing or locking, jaw opening deviations and deflections, and restricted side-to-side jaw movements. All of these indications are widely accepted and published criteria for diagnosing TMD.