Conservative Treatments for TMJ Disorder

Dr. Rocky Cullens provides quality oral and maxillofacial surgery care. His accomplishments include producing the highest number of successful oral surgery cases at the hospital in one year and performing the hospital’s first total joint replacement of the TMJ, or temporomandibular, joint.

TMJ disorder is a condition that affects the joints that attach the lower jaw to the skull just in front of each ear. When these joints are strained or damaged, they can lead to a host of uncomfortable symptoms, including popping or locking of the jaw, problems with chewing, and pain that can radiate from the jaw all the way to the head, neck, and shoulders.

While surgery can be an effective way to stop these symptoms for good, it is usually only recommended after conservative treatments have not produced results. Many patients find relief by using warm or cold compresses on the jaw, eating a soft diet, and learning relaxation techniques that help break the habit of jaw-clenching. Pain relievers, such as ibuprofen and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), can additionally provide relief, if only temporary. A commonly prescribed treatment for TMJ is an oral splint, which holds the jaw in its ideal resting position to ease the strain on the joints. Dental work, including orthodontics and crown placement, can also bring balance to the bite. If jaw pain, inflammation, clicking, and popping still persist after non-invasive treatments, surgery to repair or replace the TMJ may be indicated.

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