Expert Article Library

Tmj Treatment Modalities

By: Ronald Neer, DDS  E-mail: ronneer@nemonet.com

Early treatment is very important and cannot be overstated. TMJ problems can advance in stages and grow progressively worse. Thus, a minor problem now could become a major source of pain in the future. Additionally, chances of successful therapy increase substantially the earlier treatment is accomplished.

After diagnosing the problem, a variety of treatments may be recommended depending on the extent of correction needed. Initial phases of treatment are aimed to eliminate the TMJ pain resulting from the actual problem. In the second stage, the actual treatment to correct the problem is implemented.

Medicines/Muscle Stimulation/Ultrasound

These may be prescribed to alleviate the pain before and during the actual treatment.

Trigger Point Injections

This is the injection of anesthetic into muscle to eliminate muscle spasm.

Splint/Jaw Repositioner Appliances

This is a mouth appliance that is custom made to fit between the patient's upper and lower teeth. It is not only used in diagnosis, but they are also used as treatment to temporarily eliminate the bite disharmony and resulting pain. Then once we have achieved a state of muscle relaxation and an acceptable level of patient comfort then we can determine which forms of permanent treatment are necessary to maintain long term comfort.

Occlusal Equilibration

The tops of the teeth are reshaped in this procedure. This is done to alleviate pressure on individual teeth. The reshaping procedure has been found to be the solution for many conditions which cause discomfort in the head, neck, and shoulders and the breakdown of dental structures. This can be likened to a pebble in your shoe and your foot adapts to that pebble and you may limp. As with a tooth too high for comfort, the jaw also adapts to the uncomfortable tooth fit but develops muscle pain. During equilibration the high tooth is reshaped for a better fit and resulting muscle relaxation.

Occlusal Restorations

This involves the placement or construction of teeth by means of crowns, bridges, implants, inlays, onlays, partial dentures or just routine restorations to build the bite to a more permanent, healthy, relationship.