What Is TMJ & TMD Treatment?
If you suffer from chronic headaches, a stiff or painful jaw, or neck and facial pain, you may be suffering from TMD. These disorders can make chewing, talking, or yawning painful or uncomfortable. If left untreated, it could lead to bone damage, tooth loss, or insomnia. Thankfully, the office of Dana Keith DDS offers effective TMD and TMJ treatment for patients in and around Silver Spring and Cloverly, MD. We can help ease your discomfort.
Problems with the jaw may also cause sleep apnea. We have different treatment options available to help you get a good night of rest.
TMJ vs. TMD
Though often used interchangeably, TMJ and TMD are two different things. The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the hinge joint of your jaw. It includes the bone, joint, cartilage, and muscles surrounding the jaw. This joint connects the lower jaw to the skull and is what allows you to talk, chew, swallow, and yawn.
The temporomandibular disorder (TMD) is a result of problems with the TMJ. Often these disorders cause pain and dysfunction of the jaw joint or the muscles controlling the proper function. For some, the conditions of TMD occur in cycles of discomfort, and will rarely indicate a serious problem. In these cases, the pain may be resolved with no treatment, or very little treatment. However, there are some who suffer from chronic symptoms of TMD. In these cases, you should seek our help.
Common Symptoms of TMD & TMJ
- Pain in chewing muscles
- Muscle spasms in the jaw
- Jaw joint pain
- Tooth sensitivity not caused by infection
- Popping or clicking when opening or closing the mouth
- Swelling around the jaw
- Earaches not caused by infection
- Ringing in the ears
- Difficulty chewing
- Changes in the bite
- Malocclusion or misalignment of teeth
- Chronic headaches
- Difficulty swallowing
- Speech abnormalities
Cosmetic Dentistry Services
For some, TMJ disorders are fairly harmless and will not require any form of extensive treatment. Instead, the dentist may recommend some rest and at-home care. To rest your jaw, you will want to avoid eating hard or chewy foods until the symptoms subside. You may be advised to massage the affected area, or use cool or warm compresses to ease inflammation or promote movement. You can also use relaxation techniques to ease the tension of the TMJ. These conservative treatments will help lessen the symptoms of TMD and, in minor cases, eliminate the problem altogether.
A type of non-invasive treatment for TMD or TMJ involves occlusal splints, or bite guards. These are removable devices custom made to fit your teeth. They will help prevent tension on the jaw. These treatments should not cause permanent changes to your bite, but should simply stabilize your jaw and protect your teeth from unnecessary wear. You might also consider taking certain medications if prescribed by a dentist, including pain medication, muscle relaxants, or anti-inflammatory medications to ease symptoms.
In some select cases of severe TMD or TMJ, surgery may be required. This only occurs after more conservative methods have failed. The surgical options might include reshaping the condyle, removing loose bone fragments around the joint, or arthrocentesis. These cases are rare and will only be used as a last resort because they permanently alter the jaw.
What is Sleep Apnea?
Aside from disrupting sleep, snoring doesn’t seem like something to worry about. Unfortunately, some snorers are at risk of having a potentially serious sleep disorder. Sleep apnea occurs when you repeatedly stop and start breathing while you sleep. This disorder is something that needs to be treated by a sleep apnea professional as soon as possible before other more serious conditions develop. Dana Keith DDS can help!
There are three categories of sleep apnea:
- Obstructive sleep apnea
- Central sleep apnea
- Mixed sleep apnea
Obstructive sleep apnea is the most serious form of the condition because regular breathing stops and blood oxygen levels fall, blood pressure rises, and the heart beats irregularly. In turn, this can lead to heart disease, stroke, liver problems, or complications with medications and surgery.
Sleep Apnea Treatments
Treatment for Mild Sleep Apnea
There are several lifestyle changes you can make to prevent mild cases of sleep apnea. Changing your sleep position and laying on your side can treat airway obstruction. Another thing to try is avoiding alcohol and sedatives that relax the muscles of your mouth and throat. Also, do not wait until fatigue sets in before you sleep. Other lifestyle changes might include losing weight, exercising, and keeping your nasal passages open at night with saline spray or decongestants. For mild cases of sleep apnea, these simple lifestyle changes may be all you need for treatment.
Treatment for Mild to Moderate Sleep Apnea
Simple lifestyle changes might not be enough for mild to moderate cases. In these instances, we can prescribe an oral appliance. The Mandibular Advancement Device (MAD) or the Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) are both effective treatments. These appliances work by positioning the jaw or soft tissues, stabilizing the lower jaw and tongue, and increasing the muscle tone of the tongue. All these will open up the airways and make nighttime breathing easier. These methods are comfortable and easy to wear. They are also small, convenient, and easy to pack along while traveling.
Treatment for Severe Sleep Apnea
In more severe cases of sleep apnea, surgery may be required. Some surgical options include tissue removal, jaw repositioning, tracheostomy, or plastic implants. These sleep apnea treatments are usually a last resort, only implemented after the other options have failed. The main goal of surgery for sleep apnea is to enlarge the airway and reduce vibrations and blockages.
“Everyone in the office is very professional, nice and knowledgeable. They didn’t make me wait at all. I was seen almost immediately. In general, I had a wonderful experience. I highly recommend Dr. Keith.” – Ana C.