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TMJ Treatment

When to Seek Medical Care

Occasional jaw joint or chewing pain/discomfort is not uncommon and is probably not a cause for concern. See a doctor if your pain is severe, is getting worse, or does not go away. TMJ therapy should begin when the problem is in the early stages. The doctor can explain the functioning of the joints, possible predisposing factors and how to avoid any action or habit (e.g, chewing gum) that might aggravate the joint or facial pain.

If your jaw is acutley locked open or closed, go to a hospital's emergency department.

  • The open locked jaw is treated by sedating you intravenously to a comfortable level. After a local anesthetic, the mandible is held with the thumbs while the lower jaw is pushed downward, forward, and backward.
  • The closed locked jaw is treated by sedating you intravenously until you are completely relaxed, Sometimes general anesthesia is required. Then the mandible is gently manipulated until the mouth opens.

Self-Care at Home

Many TMD conditions can be managed with self-care. If your symptoms persist longer than 2 weeks, and prior to institution of a self-care regimen, it is important to undergo an examination by an experienced clinician. This is essential since other, more serious conditions, may mimic a temporomandibular joint disorder.

Many people, more women than men, have intermittent TMJ symptoms.. However, the full TMJ disorder develops in only a few. Most of the symptoms disappear in 2 weeks because your jaw joint rests and recovers when you are unable to chew.

  • Anti-inflammatory pain medications such as aspirin or acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Motrin, Aleve) may ease the pain of TMJ.
  • A soft food diet. What is a soft diet? The food is too chewy or hard if it hurts during or after chewing that food.
  • Apply warm compresses on the area of pain. Home therapy includes mandible (lower jaw) movements, such as opening and closing the jaw from side to side. Try this after a warm compress is applied for 20 minutes. The lower jaw movements should be repeated 3-5 times a day, 5 minutes continuously each time, for about 2-4 weeks.

When you yawn, support your lower jaw with your hand.
See your dentist if you grind your teeth at night or find yourself clenching your jaw during waking hours. The dentist can make a splint for you. The type of splint depends on your particular situation.

Outlook

Most people do well with conservative therapy, such as resting the jaw or using a TMJ splint. The success of treatment depends on how severe the symptoms are and how well you comply with treatment. Only about small number of patients require surgical treatment.


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