Understanding the Different Treatments for Your TMJ

Pain in your jaw, frequent headaches when you wake, and clicking or sticking sensations when you chew or yawn are all signs of temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder, a relatively common problem that causes inflammation inside your jaw joints.

For some people, TMJ disorder symptoms can be mild and controlled with over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medicines. For others, the symptoms are so severe, they interfere with daily activities and take a toll on your quality of life.

At Pacific Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery Center, Brandon Kang, DDS, helps patients with all degrees of TMJ disorders find relief for their symptoms, preventing those symptoms from getting worse over time. If you have TMJ discomfort, here’s a quick review of the patient-centered treatment options Dr. Kang offers at his practices in Oakland and San Francisco, California.

Why TMJ disorders happens

TMJ disorders happen when one or both of the joints on either side of your jaw become irritated and inflamed. Swelling inside the joint interferes with the way your jaw joints work, causing jaw strain, pain, and other symptoms.

TMJ disorders can be caused by lots of underlying problems, including:

Often, the underlying cause of TMJ disorders can’t be determined.

TMJ treatment options

Dr. Kang knows TMJ discomfort can affect patients in different ways, so customizing treatment is critical for providing long-lasting relief. He offers four primary treatment options for patients with moderate to severe TMJ disorder symptoms.

Botox®

Botox is probably more commonly associated with wrinkle treatments than for managing TMJ disorder symptoms. But as a neuromuscular agent, Botox is very effective in relaxing overactive jaw muscles that can increase jaw tension and joint inflammation. 

Botox works by blocking nerve signals that cause your facial muscles to over-contract. Injections take just a few minutes, and they can be repeated as needed to maintain an optimal level of muscle relaxation in your jaws.

Arthroscopy

Arthroscopy is a minimally-invasive procedure that uses tiny incisions to insert an even tinier camera. The camera sends back real-time video of the inside of your jaw joint, so Dr. Kang can determine the best course of treatment. He can also use arthroscopy to perform procedures aimed at relieving symptoms and improving jaw function.

Arthrocentesis

Arthrocentesis is a minimally-invasive treatment that uses special solutions to irrigate, or wash out, your jaw joints. The solution is injected into your jaw joint at a location near your ear. Research shows arthrocentesis is associated with a very high success rate for relieving painful symptoms associated with TMJ disorders.

Jaw surgery

When these less invasive treatment options don’t provide meaningful relief from painful symptoms, Dr. Kang may recommend jaw surgery. During surgery, Dr. Kang removes loose bodies that could be irritating the joint, or he may perform other procedures to restore or even replace a badly damaged joint.

Before recommending any treatment, Dr. Kang performs a thorough evaluation of your jaws, your bite balance, and your symptoms. Diagnostic imaging using X-rays and other digital scans can also help guide treatment decisions.

Relieve your TMJ disorder symptoms

Even if your TMJ discomfort is manageable now, it can become worse over time. If you have any symptoms of TMJ disorder, like jaw or facial pain, tenderness, or clicking or sticking sensations, call our office most convenient to you or request an appointment online to schedule a consultation with Dr. Kang today.

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