Temporomandibular dysfunction or TMD includes a wide range of disorders that often overlap. They include muscle issues that affect jaw movement, facial pain around the jaw joint and a variety of other problems that can show up within the joint itself. This variety makes diagnosis and treatment challenging. An accurate diagnosis is critical for successful treatment. Drs. Dean and Tara Kois are experienced in the identification and treatment of TMD.
Most times if the problem is muscular or within the joint, it will get better over time. For this reason our Seattle dentists use conservative treatments first. But in some cases, surgery or other procedures, such as injections, may be recommended.
If you have a case of TMD, Drs Dean and Tara Kois may suggest the treatments listed below and may even use several in a combination. This is because patients may not find relief from using only one.
- Soft foods — If you eat foods that don’t require much chewing, your jaw has a chance to rest and heal.
- Moist heat, jaw exercise and ice packs — Some people find that a good routine of moist heat, exercise and ice helps relive TMD symptoms fairly quickly. To do this start by applying moist heat to the side of your face and temple. This relaxes tight muscles that may be causing pain and spasms. You should maintain the moist heat for about 10 minutes. Then do a few simple jaw stretchs. After that follow up with some ice on your jaw for about 5 minutes.
- Medicine — Our typical suggestions are aspirin or ibuprofen, these will help relieve most muscle pain and swelling. We also may prescribe muscle relaxants to help loosen tight jaw muscles. These can be useful to people who grind or clench their teeth causing some form of TMD. Sometimes we may prescribe antianxiety medicines to help relieve stress that can make TMD worse. Another prescription we may make is for Antidepressants in low doses to reduce or control pain. In small doses, the drugs do nothing for depression but can help immensely with the pain.
Sometimes, even with the use of these less invasive treatments, the TMD can continue to cause pain. Drs. Dean and Tara Kois have several advanced treatments available in the rare case of patients not seeing improvement through the non invasive treatments. These Advanced treatments have all been effective in treating chronic TMD.
- Electrical nerve stimulation – Using low-level electrical currents Drs. Dean and Tara relax the jaw joint and facial muscles. For some people, this treatment is enough to relieve pain.
- Trigger-point injections – Drs. Dean and Tara inject a strong pain medicine or an anesthetic into the tender facial muscles to relieve pain. While under the effects of the medicine they will have you stretch your jaw muscles with a series of simple exercises.
- Surgery – If no other treatment alternative can be found Drs. Dean and Tara may suggest surgery as a final solution. TMD surgeries are found to be widely effective however, as with any surgery, it has its risks. Drs. Dean and Tara only use this option as a last resort and will clearly cover the positives and negatives with you before performing surgery.
For more information about TMD treatment and our other advanced dental care solutions, please contact Kois Dentistry to schedule your appointment.