What is TMJ Disorder and TMJ Therapy?
TMJ stands for Temporomandibular Joint and TMD stands for Temporomandibular Dysfunction.
The TMJ is a complex joint positioned just in front of the ear, and TMD is used to describe a wide range of issues with the TMJ including popping, clicking, and pain, among others.
Why would I want TMD or TMJ disorder therapy?
This is almost always a patient driven issue. The solution we chose depends heavily on your own interpretation of the issue and how it’s affecting your lifestyle.
How does TMJ Therapy work?
Depending on what exactly is going on, you may be a candidate for an occlusal device, prescription medication, or a referral to a joint specialist.
Because of the complexity of the joint, a thorough examination is always completed in the office prior to making any treatment decisions. It typically involves a combination of home care and sometimes a prescription to calm the joint and muscles. In some cases we may also recommend an appliance to wear that takes pressure off of the joint and muscles. Most instances of TMD can be resolved with home care.
There are two main initial courses of TMJ therapy:
- Home care (relaxation, stretching, and medication)
a. The first goal is to relax and calm the accessory muscles of the face and take as much pressure as we can off of the joint itself by relaxing and sometimes adding medication
b. If you are experiencing muscle tightness, you can use your knuckles to gently wedge your jaw open to stretch the facial muscles, or use your hand to hold your head to stretch neck muscles – 20 sec gentle hold per stretch
- Nighttime grinding guard
a. This is an approach used after we break the initial pain cycle to help ensure that there is not excessive force on the TMJ or facial muscles when sleeping
TMJ therapy home care:
- Use warm pack on affected area 3-5 times per day for 20 min to increase blood flow
- Try to keep the teeth, jaw, and face relaxed during the day
- Eat soft foods that are very easy to chew
- Muscle tightness? Use gentle 20 sec stretching
- Take medication as prescribed (if applicable)