Headaches, muscle pain and tension, jaw popping, and even premature tooth wear can all be the effects of chronic TMJ disorders. Many times, patients don’t seek out therapeutic options until their pain is so severe that it interferes with their daily activities or lifestyle. A variety of approaches have been used in dentistry to treat TMJ disorders. Surgical methods are typically the last line of treatment, offering only minimal success rates.
Studies show that non-invasive, therapeutic approaches to treating TMJ are the best way to alleviate symptoms and prevent pain. One of the most successful techniques involves the neuromuscular approach to guiding and retraining the TMJ joint back into an anatomically correct position. As a result, function is improved and pain is naturally eliminated, without any type of surgical procedure.
Neuromuscular TMJ therapy typically utilizes a bite splint technique that places the jaw into a resting position, preventing joint strain and grinding of the teeth. The splint can be worn at night to prevent morning headaches or neck pain, or even in the daytime. Another technique involves correcting the way teeth bite together. Misaligned teeth and jaws can cause the joint to be compromised during normal function, inadvertently straining the muscles around the joint. Orthodontic tooth realignment helps naturally position the teeth into a proper occlusal relationship, so that function is normal and joint strain is eliminated.
If home therapies such as warm/cold compresses and relaxation exercises aren’t enough to relieve TMJ associated pain, then it’s time to consider asking your dentist about therapeutic neuromuscular techniques. Splints can offer immediate pain relief, as well as prevent further complications from developing. Orthodontic techniques may take slightly longer, but offer long-term benefits that also improve the health and appearance of your teeth.