The temporomandibular joint (also called the jaw joint or TMJ) is a frequently used synovial joint that allows us to open and close our mouths. But, a TMJ disorder (TMD) can make yawning, eating, and speaking much more uncomfortable (or even impossible). Fortunately, general dentistry treatments can help you treat or manage a bothersome TMD.
At Gallery Dental of Oakbrook, Dr. Peter L. Noto has simple yet effective solutions to help you get lasting relief from temporomandibular joint pain. Contact our dentist in Oakbrook Terrace, IL, today at (630) 620-8300 or online here to learn more about our available TMJ treatments.
In this post, we give you five, non-surgical ways to treat or manage a TMJ disorder (TMD). Even simple solutions can make a noticeable difference in your daily comfort and function.
1. Over-the-counter Painkillers
An easy way to get near-instant relief from a TMJ disorder is with over-the-counter painkillers, such as aspirin, naproxen, or ibuprofen. Medical professionals classify these store-bought pain medications as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). As such, they can address both pain and swelling, which are common symptoms of a TMD.
Common, name-brand NSAIDs that we recommend include:
2. Prescription Medications
In some cases, over-the-counter painkillers do not adequately control pain and swelling. Therefore, some patients may choose to explore prescription-strength painkillers or other drugs, like muscle relaxers.
In other cases, patients may choose to pursue antidepressants, especially if their TMDs stem from stress or anxiety. Even low doses of antidepressants can help relax tight jaw muscles, which helps to improve the jaw’s range of motion, performance, and overall health.
3. TMD-friendly Dietary Habits
Certain foods and dietary habits that can worsen a TMD, such as:
- Eating excessively hard or chewy foods, like beef jerky, taffy, or peanut brittle
- Munching on fingernails, ice, or pen tips
- Chewing on sugar-free gum
Give tired jaws a rest from stressful dietary habits by:
- Eating softer foods, like soups, cottage cheese, and cooked vegetables
- Avoiding behaviors that overuse the jaws, like chewing on ice or fingernails
- Sucking on sugar-free mints rather than chewing on sugar-free gum
- Stretching the jaws to relieve tension and improve their range of motion
4. Custom-made Night Guard or Splint
Personalized splints or night guards are one of the most popular, non-surgical TMJ disorder treatments. These plastic mouthpieces sit on the upper and lower teeth to comfortably position the jaw into better alignment. Not only that, but splints and night guards can protect teeth from sleep bruxism (the unintentional grinding and clenching of teeth while sleeping).
Misaligned teeth can affect the way our teeth come into contact with each other. And if our teeth aren’t in proper contact with each other, then it can lead to jaw pain and, eventually, a TMJ disorder.
Orthodontia (like Invisalign®) can seamlessly straighten teeth, which improves bite patterns and reduces TMJ pain.
TMJ Treatments in Oakbrook Terrace, IL
If you’re living with a painful TMD, then contact Dr. Noto at Gallery Dental of Oakbrook. He and his team can help you explore all of your non-surgical treatment options at an in-depth consultation. Schedule your appointment now by calling (630) 620-8300 or by sending us a brief message here.