Can TMJ Go Away on its Own?
The symptoms of TMJ disorder can be debilitating.
If you’re suffering from temporomandibular joint dysfunction—TMD for short—you know how frustrating the disorder can be. TMJ can present with a whole list of symptoms and interfere with your daily activities, even eating and sleeping.
Do any of the following symptoms sound familiar to you?
- Facial or jaw pain and tenderness
- Earaches or ringing in your ears
- Difficulty and pain with chewing
- Pain in one or both of your temporomandibular joints
- Joint locking or difficulty opening your mouth
- Pain in your neck and shoulders
- Swelling on the side of your face
If so, you might be dealing with TMD, which is the most common cause of chronic facial pain. It’s easy to just hang onto the hope that these symptoms may go away on their own, but it’s very likely that TMJ treatment will be necessary.
Mild TMD is more likely to resolve on its own.
There are lots of causes of TMJ disorders; for example, arthritis, tooth grinding, and specific progressive middle ear and bone diseases can all trigger TMJ disorders.
Depending on the cause, your TMJ issue is more or less likely to go away on its own. If your TMJ issue is caused by lifestyle factors, such as stress, symptoms may lessen on their own. Most of the time, some form of TMJ treatment is needed to address the problem. Since TMJ disorder is so complex and tricky, Dr. Alhadef will work with you to find the treatment that works.
Simple things can help.
If your case is mild, Dr. Alhedef will work on basic lifestyle changes with you first. Avoid hard and chewy foods, as these can exacerbate the problem. Chewing gum worsens TMJ symptoms, so if that is something you do frequently, try stopping. Avoid extreme jaw movements, such as wide yawning, and pay attention to your posture. In order to temporarily relieve pain, an ice pack on the sore area for 15 minutes at a time may help.
There’s also a link between stress and anxiety and TMJ disorders, and if that’s a factor for you, you should look into relaxation techniques.
Medications can be used to ease the pain.
For pain that persists, anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving medications can help reduce inflammation. Over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen may help, but in some cases, prescription medications may be necessary. Muscle relaxants are also an option to help relax the jaw muscles and provide relief, and certain antidepressants can even be used, as they can help with the way your body interprets pain.
Physical therapy will help strengthen your muscles.
Personalized physical therapy can be used to help with TMJ issues. You can do certain exercises to strengthen your jaw muscles and learn relaxation techniques to relieve stress in your jaw area. General physical therapy can help with TMD, too, as there’s a link between posture and jaw pain. If your posture or other musculoskeletal problems are factors in your TMJ disorder, this treatment might be beneficial.
A custom-fitted orthotic or night guard can provide relief.
A commonly used treatment for TMD is custom orthotics. These devices are called “stabilization splints” or bite guards and are used when the cause of your jaw pain stems from your jaw, bite, or muscles being out of alignment. Stabilization splints work by reducing pressure on your jaw and ensuring your bite is properly positioned.
Sometimes, nighttime teeth grinding is the cause of your TMD. If this is the case, Dr. Alhadef can provide you with a custom night guard designed to prevent tooth grinding and give you some relief.
Joint surgery can be a last resort.
In severe cases of TMJ, surgery may be necessary. Because there are risks associated with surgery, it’s reserved for the more severe cases of TMD when TMD does not respond to other treatments.
There are a few different kinds of jaw surgery. Arthrocentesis is a simple operation that involves injecting fluid into the jaw joint. Arthrocentesis is a good first option for surgery because the success rate is 80% and it is less invasive than other options. The next least-invasive surgery is an arthroscopy. With an arthroscopy, your surgeon cuts a tiny hole above your jaw and inserts a device with a camera through it to perform complex procedures. The most invasive type of jaw joint surgery is open joint surgery, and it’s used for severe TMJ disorders.
Don’t wait for your symptoms to go away.
Dr. Gary Alhadef will work with you through a careful diagnostic process to determine the exact cause or causes of your TMJ disorder. With that information, he will guide you through the treatment process and together you’ll figure out exactly what is necessary to relieve the symptoms. If you’re suffering from jaw pain, don’t wait for it to get better on its own. Reach out to us so we can help.