There are numerous treatment options that can improve the balance and function of your jaw. Once an dental evaluation confirms a TMJ disorder, a treatment plan can be prescribed. It is important to note that treatment always works best with a combined approach of self-care accompanied with professional dental care. The first goals are to stop the muscle spasm and relieve joint pain. This is usually treated with a pain reliever, anti-inflammatory or muscle relaxant. Steroids can be injected directly into the joints to reduce pain and inflammation. Self-care treatments can often be effective as well and include:
- Relaxing your jaw
- Keeping your teeth separated when you are not eating or swallowing
- Eating foods that are soft
- Utilizing ice and heat
- Jaw exercises
- Ensuring proper posture
Various techniques used for stress management such as biofeedback or physical therapy may also be recommended, as well as a night guard. A night guard fits over your top or bottom teeth and helps keep your teeth separated, essentially relaxing the muscles and reducing pain. There are different types of appliances used for different purposes. A night guard helps you eliminate grinding or clinching your teeth and minimizes muscle tension at night and helps to protect the cartilage and joint surfaces. An anterior positioning appliance moves your jaw forward, alleviates pressure on parts of your jaw and helps in disk repositioning. It may be worn 24 hours/day to help your jaw heal. An orthotic stabilization appliance is worn 24 hours or just at night to move your jaw into the proper position. Appliances also help to protect from tooth wear.