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Most Common TMJ Treatments

TMJ – temporomandibular joint disorder – can be excruciating to live with. It can lead to pain in your jawbone and the muscles that control your jaw. The temporomandibular joint serves as a pair of sliding hinges that connect your jaw to your skull on both sides. Problems with either lead to difficulty moving your jaw, thus compromising any activity that requires the use of your jawbone or jaw muscles.

Common symptoms of TMJ disorder include:

  • Tenderness/pain in the jaw
  • Pain from either temporomandibular joints or both
  • Pain in your ear
  • Aching facial muscles
  • Difficulty opening or closing your mouth

Fortunately, your dentist has many options to help you alleviate these symptoms. These treatments are broken down into three sections: medication, therapy, and surgery.

TMJ Treatments

1. Medications

We can combine medications with therapeutic or surgical treatments. These medicines help to reduce the pain that comes with TMJ disorders.

A. Anti-inflammatory and pain relievers

When OTC medication is not enough to help manage the pain that comes with TMJ, your dentist will prescribe something stronger. Non-steroid, anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen are a common aid to temporarily relieving some pain.

B. Tricyclic antidepressants

Medications that were common for combating depression can now act as pain relievers for TMJ patients. It is important to speak with a professional in order to determine which is right for you.

C. Muscle relaxants

Medications like these often take weeks to kick in, but they are effectively used to help temporomandibular joint disorder patients deal with pain.

2. Therapeutic treatments

There are treatment options available to those dealing with TMJ issues that do not require the use of drugs. These include:

A. Mouth guards and splints

People with temporomandibular joint pain often report reduced pain when wearing a soft, firm device like a mouth guard over their teeth.

B. Physical therapy

Extreme temperatures and ultrasound waves can be used to address TMJ. This external simulation is typically coupled with exercises that strengthen and stretch the jaw muscles.

C. Counseling

Patients can reduce the discomfort associated with the temporomandibular joint disorder by understanding the behaviors and factors that aggravate your condition. Habits, like grinding your teeth or leaning on your chin, will only make your condition worse. The education will help you avoid things that make your condition worse.

3. Surgical and other treatments

When your dentist has exhausted other options, surgical solutions are next on the list. Here are the most commonly recommended treatments:

A. Arthrocentesis

This is a relatively straightforward process that involves the insertion of small needles into your jaw joints to remove debris and other by-products that are causing the inflammation.

B. Injections

Your dentist might recommend corticosteroid injections to deal with your TMJ. Botox injections can also occasionally help alleviate jaw bone pain.

C. TMJ arthroscopy

This can be as effective as open-joint surgery when it comes to treating TMJ disorders. During this procedure, we place a thin tube into your jaw joints and use miniature surgical tools for surgery. This procedure is less intrusive than open-joint surgery, but it does come with some limitations.

D. Open-joint surgery

Open-joint surgery is a last resort option for when all other methods fail. While it will allow a dentist to deal with some of the issues that TMJ presents, there are also risks with surgery.

Why does this all matter?

Dealing with jaw pain? Contact a dentist to find out more about common TMJ treatments.

Request a dental appointment here: or call New Era Family & Cosmetic Dentistry at (972) 292-2288 for an appointment in our Little Elm dental office.