March 29, 2019
TMJ disorder is a chronic inflammation of the joint that joins the upper and lower jaw. TMJ therapy in Denver involves diagnosing the root cause of the problem and relieving the physical discomfort. In many cases, this is accomplished using conservative forms of treatment such as pain relievers and lifestyle changes. In other cases, the patient’s symptoms mandate surgical methods. A qualified dentist or oral surgeon can help you to find relief. Your journey to better health begins by knowing a little bit about how TMJ disorder works.
A Stress Barometer
TMJ disorder is often a reflection of the patient’s emotional state. The more stress a TMJ disorder sufferer is under, the worse his or her symptoms are likely to be. In advanced cases, the symptoms may include any or all of the following:
- Pain or soreness in the jaw. This may eventually spread into the head, neck, and back.
- Difficulty or inability to eat, speak, and perform other tasks that involve opening and closing the mouth. In the worst cases, this can lead to the phenomenon known as “lockjaw.”
- Dental issues. Constantly clenching the teeth can cause them to fracture. It can also wear away the teeth’s protective enamel, promoting cavities and tooth decay.
- Stress-related problems. Sometimes TMJ and emotional stress can reinforce each other. Long-term consequences may include ulcers, high blood pressure, and greater risk for major health problems.
Treatment Options for TMJ Disorder
Since TMJ disorder is an oral health issue, a trip to your dentist is a sensible first step in finding relief. Treatment may take any of the following forms:
- Pain relievers. These may be used on a temporary or long-term basis as needed.
- Targeted heat or cold therapy. Your dentist may use either approach or both to treat your symptoms.
- Lifestyle changes. Factors that can cause or aggravate TMJ disorder include caffeine consumption, prolonged stress, and personal or emotional issues.
- A custom-made mouthguard. These are designed for the patient to use during sleep. They discourage teeth grinding and, in some cases, can also help to relieve obstructive sleep apnea.
Surgery for TMJ Disorder
If conservative forms of treatment fail to resolve the problem, then you may want to schedule a consultation with an oral surgeon in Denver. Here are some options he or she may recommend:
- Arthrocentesis. This is a minimally invasive form of surgery that drains fluid and inflammatory byproducts from the affected site.
- TMJ arthroscopy. This is a type of exploratory surgery designed to diagnose the cause of TMJ symptoms. Once the surgeon discovers the cause of the problem, he or she can employ a number of remedies. These may include draining the joint, reshaping bone spurs, or removing scar tissue.
- Open joint surgery. This is the most extensive approach to TMJ therapy currently available. It’s reserved for cases in which the patient is suffering from a structural defect or physical damage to the joint.
Most cases of TMJ disorder yield to treatment. Whatever you do, don’t suffer in silence. Reach out to your dentist or other healthcare provider for help. We wish you all the best as you seek to live a healthier, happier life.
About the Author
Dr. Brian Fangman is an experienced oral and maxillofacial surgeon with a background in both dentistry and TMJ therapy. He is a member of the American Dental Association and the Colorado State Society of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. You can reach his office online or by calling (720) 328-4990.
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