Not many people have heard about TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint Disorder), in many cases, not even those experiencing it regularly. But its prevalence in the American society cannot be denied. Some studies show that TMJ affects more than 10 million people in the US, and this is an approximation. So, where do we, at Millennium Dental, fit in?
The scientific consensus is that the Calgary TMJ disorders can be placed in three major categories:
- Temporomandibular joint arthritis classified as a degenerative joint disorder
- TMJ caused by injuries, a dislocated jaw or a displaced disc
- Myofascial pain characterized by discomfort and pain in the jaw muscles
A patient can be affected by more than one of these conditions, with the key symptoms including muscle stiffness, popping and clicking in the jaw joint during chewing, speaking or opening the mouth, constant pain and discomfort. And the bad part is that diagnosing the condition is more confusing than it should be.
We have no standardized test to diagnose TMJ. All that the medic can do is to analyze the symptoms and approximate, depending on their intensity, frequency, and localization.
Can TMJ be treated?
The treatments for TMJ fall into two major categories: invasive and non-invasive. The invasive ones include:
- Medication – We are talking about anti-inflammatories, tricyclic antidepressants, which can also be used for treating pain, and muscle relaxants, calming the muscles and relieving the symptoms.
- Dental appliances, therapies, and education – Mouth guards can be successfully used to minimize the symptoms, aiming to correct joint displacement, among other aspects. Other times physical therapies may be required, strengthening the jaw muscles and relieving pain and stiffness. Educating the patient can be just as critical, as knowing the factors fueling the disorder will help you avoid them throughout the day.
The invasive procedures are more effective in the long run than the non-invasive ones. These include:
- Botox injections – Botox is used for more than cosmetic purposes. The botulinic toxin has been shown to destroy the nerve endings in the muscles, calming pain and substantially reducing the uncontrollable contractions associated with the Calgary TMJ disorders.
- Surgical interventions – There are several procedures that fall into this category, including arthrocentesis (irrigating the fluid in the jaw with the help of needle insertion, meant to lower the inflammation), arthroscopy (a surgical procedure using a cannula and an arthroscope; it is minimally invasive), modified condylotomy (operating the mandible instead of the joint itself), and the open-joint surgery (also called arthrotomy, this procedure is meant to repair or entirely replace the joint).
Surgical interventions are always riskier than the rest of the procedures, which is why it is always a good idea to treat your Calgary TMJ disorders before further complication arise. In the more severe cases, the disorder can become extremely debilitating, with the individual being unable to chew food properly, speak or even open their mouth for that matter.
At Millennium Dental, we treat TMJ using the safest and most effective procedures, hoping to help patients escape the pain and the discomfort of having to live with the condition. Don’t wait for it to get worse. Call in for an appointment right now, so that our specialists can get to it asap!