The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the joint that connects your mandible (lower jaw) to your skull. The joint can be found on both sides of your head in front of your ears. It allows your jaw to open and close, letting you speak and eat. While anyone can get a TMJ disorder, women are more likely to incur this disorder than those between 20-40. TMJD can be difficult to diagnose, and it is not usually easy to determine the cause. If a TMJ disorder is causing pain, most professionals typically recommend some sort of intervention. However, is it possible for TMJ pain to be fixed without surgery?
Does a TMJ Disorder Typically Require Surgery?
TMJ surgery is the last resort when all other treatments fail. It is only recommended for patients suffering from severe pain that interferes with their day-to-day life. Before jumping straight into surgery, it’s essential to determine if you have other underlying conditions causing TMJ pain, such as mouth breathing, malocclusion, sleep apnea, or sleep-disordered breathing. If these are the source of the pain, even if surgery is performed, the root issue won’t be solved. Those issues must be treated first.
What Are Other TMJ Therapy Options Besides Therapy?
While they may not be any TMJ disorder cures, there are many options for managing symptoms and strengthening your jaw. Some of these options include:
Myofunctional therapy focuses on strengthening your oral and facial muscles, which aligns them to their correct positions and helps reduce or eliminate pain and other TMD symptoms. Myofunctional therapy for TMJ is a natural, effective way to avoid surgery or medicinal intervention. When myofunctional therapy for a TMJ disorder is often implemented, the pain goes away on its own.
Mouth Guards / Night Guards are another great option that typically helps most people with TMJ corrections. Your dentist might recommend a mouth or night guard. Night guards are especially effective if your TMD is related to grinding and clenching your teeth at night. Mouth guards are worn day and night to assist with bite issues, helping improve stable tooth contacts.
A TMJ splint is a removable dental appliance that covers several or all upper or lower teeth. Constructed in a dental lab, splints are typically made of hard acrylic resin and molded from an impression of your teeth. After the splint is made, the dentist will fit and readjust it. You will be expected to wear it at the recommended times (all day, only at night, both), as well as to come in for follow-up appointments to check on how your symptoms are progressing and to have the splint readjusted, if necessary.
What Are the Benefits of Non-invasive Myofunctional Therapy?
TMJ surgery is controversial and irreversible. Any of the above options are low-risk and natural ways to improve the body’s muscles and function. There are many benefits to myofunctional therapy to help a TMD, including:
- Improved biting and chewing function
- Efficient breathing through the nose
- Ability to articulate and pronounce words and letters more effectively
- Improving the appearance of the face
- Eliminating TMJ or jaw pain
If you are experiencing the ill effects of a TMD, myofunctional therapy can foster better health and reduce pain. As a result, you can enjoy a better quality of life.
Schedule An Appointment With Bloom Center for Sleep and Airway Health
If you have TMJ disorder symptoms or have questions, we encourage you to reach out to us! Schedule a consultation or virtual appointment with Dr. Liz Turner at the Bloom Center for Sleep & Airway Health. She will assess your unique situation or have you meet with our own myofunctional therapist, Courtney Krei RDH OMT!