How Does a General Dentist Treat TMJ?

TMJ Miami, FL

You may have heard of TMJ disorder before, or perhaps you may currently have the symptoms. Pain in this joint can be unbearable, especially while you are eating. It may be so intense that you cannot open or close your mouth. You should not have to live with this discomfort. Your general dentist can examine you and properly treat this condition.

Understanding TMJ disorder

The temporomandibular joint is a critical part of the face. It is a hinge-like joint on each side of the head that connects the jaw to the skull. An individual uses this joint for chewing, speaking, and yawning. Normally, the joint should function without any issues. However, strain or injury can cause pain, making these normal activities difficult or impossible. Other health conditions such as arthritis may aggravate the condition or even dislodge the joint.

Over-the-counter medication

To diagnose TMJ disorder, the dentist will examine the patient. This may occur at a routine wellness checkup or during a specific appointment to address the symptoms of the condition. The dentist will also take X-rays. In mild cases, over-the-counter medication such as Tylenol or Ibuprofen may be enough to relieve the pain. The dentist will urge the patient to use the medication as directed and only as needed. The patient should inform the dentist if these medications are ineffective.

Prescription drugs

If the pain becomes more persistent and interferes with daily tasks, the dentist may prescribe stronger medications. The dentist will likely start with pain medication or anti-inflammatory drugs. These should reduce any swelling and minimize the irritation in the area. Another approach is to give the patient steroid shots or muscle relaxers. Some patients may react positively to antidepressants, which can dull pain or help the patient avoid grinding their teeth while asleep.

Therapy

If medication is not working well, or if the patient prefers a drug-free approach, therapies are available for TMJ disorder. Perhaps the most common is a mouthguard. Wearing one of these over the teeth sometimes provides comfort for patients. Other people respond well to other strategies such as stretching the jaw or applying heat or cold to the affected area. Discussing with the dentist the issues that lead to the pain could also help the patient avoid flare-ups.

Surgery

If TMJ disorder gets worse and is constant, surgery may be necessary. The dentist can insert needles into the joint and remove any debris or agents causing the inflammation. Open joint surgery can be the right approach in the most serious cases. This procedure involves repairing any damage to the joint or even removing it.

Get relief today

Dealing with TMJ can be difficult. It interferes with eating and speaking, making these routine activities unbearable at times. The good news for you is that your general dentist has the knowledge and training to help you feel well again. These treatments can solve your symptoms and improve your oral health. If you believe you are suffering from this condition, call your dentist today and schedule an appointment to discuss your needs.

Request an appointment here: https://www.southfloridadentalarts.com or call South Florida Dental Arts at (305) 230-4041 for an appointment in our Miami office.

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