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The Latest on TMJ

Temporomandibular Joint Disorder commonly known as TMD or TMJ is a very common issue in our population. Most often it manifests itself as a “click” or a “pop” coming from the joint that is located in front of the ear. It can also present as simply pain from the joint, locking of the mouth in the open or closed position or a “grinding” or “sandpaper” sound that comes from that region of your head. Often times TMJ doesn’t really hurt, it is more annoying than anything else. However, there are instances where the TMJ region can flare up and cause extreme discomfort. Often these are in times of stress or fatigue in your life. And interestingly we see it often in people who seem very happy, well adjusted and calm on the outside and internalize all their stress. Individuals such as these tend to clench and/or grind during their sleep which exacerbates their TMJ condition. It can be very painful and even debilitating.

We strongly advise those whom are experiencing TMJ systems to not do anything invasive for treatment. “Invasive” treatment would include any surgical options or any dental options that would include drilling, restoring or orthodontic options meant to permanently change your bite. Treatments such as these can be incredibly expensive and are of limited to no value for permanent relief of the symptoms. Furthermore, we do not recommend any chiropractic “adjustments” of the TMJ area as this will cause internal damage to the joint area. In many of these “treatments”, the TMJ symptoms actually become worse leading to more pain and will limit how wide you can open your mouth (Range of Motion).

Last year, the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, a department of NIH, released a comprehensive study and paper reviewing symptoms and current treatments for TMD. Their conclusions? Less is more.

Their recommendations for treatment includes moist heat and cold packs, massage, trigger point therapy and TMJ mouth guards. These recommendations are consistent with what we have been recommending to our patients for years and have found to be highly effective in eventually relieving the pain our patients experience. In rare cases of severe TMJ damage, we will guide our patients to UCLA or USC’s pain management clinic both of who are well equipped to handle difficult cases armed with the latest research and equipment.

We encourage you to see a dental professional to assess which of these non-invasive treatments are appropriate for your specific situation. And if you can not get to a professional immediately, constant rotation of moist heat and cold packs in combination with a pain reliever such as ibuprofen seems to help considerably. You can try over-the-counter mouth guards but if you notice an increase of pain, stop using it immediately and get a custom night guard from your dentist.

 

Remember, the rule with TMJ treatments is “Less is More.”

Temporomandibular Joint Disorder commonly known as TMD or TMJ is a very common issue in our population. Most often it manifests itself as a “click” or a “pop” coming from the joint that is located in front of the ear. It can also present as simply a pain from the joint, a locking of the mouth in the open or closed position or a “grinding” or “sandpaper” sound that comes from that region of your head. Often times TMJ doesn’t really hurt, it is more annoying than anything else. However, there are instances where the TMJ region can flare up and cause extreme discomfort. Often these are in times of stress or fatigue in your life. And interestingly we see it often in people who seem very happy, well adjusted and calm on the outside and internalize all their stress. Individuals such as these tend to clench and/or grind during their sleep which exacerbates their TMJ condition. It can be very painful and even debilitating.

We strongly advise those whom are experiencing TMJ systems to not do anything invasive for treatment. “Invasive” treatment would include any surgical options or any dental options that would include drilling, restoring or orthodontic options meant to permanently change your bite. Treatments such as these can be incredibly expensive and are of limited to no value for permanent relief of the symptoms. Furthermore, we do not recommend any chiropractic “adjustments” of the TMJ area as this will cause internal damage to the joint area. In many of these “treatments”, the TMJ symptoms actually become worse leading to more pain and will limit how wide you can open your mouth (Range of Motion).

Last year, the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, a department of NIH, released a comprehensive study and paper reviewing symptoms and current treatments for TMD. Their conclusions? Less is more.

Their recommendations for treatment includes moist heat and cold packs, massage, trigger point therapy and TMJ mouth guards. These recommendations are consistent with what we have been recommending to our patients for years and have found to be highly effective in eventually relieving the pain our patients experience. In rare cases of severe TMJ damage, we will guide our patients to UCLA or USC’s pain management clinic both of who are well equipped to handle difficult cases armed with the latest research and equipment.

We encourage you to see a dental professional to assess which of these non-invasive treatments are appropriate for your specific situation. And if you can not get to a professional immediately, constant rotation of moist heat and cold packs in combination with a pain reliever such as ibuprofen seems to help considerably. You can try over-the-counter mouth guards but if you notice an increase of pain, stop using it immediately and get a custom night guard from your dentist.

 

Remember, the rule with TMJ treatments is “Less is More.”

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