Written By Dr. Kyle Griffith
Welcome back, 58 Dental family. This is the last in a three part series discussing TMD (Temporomandibular Disorder). This portion of the blog will discuss the management strategies that can be provided by dental professionals.
Just to reiterate, TMD is a complex issue. As we have seen, TMD can present with different symptoms and be triggered by multiple causes. The self-management techniques presented in Part II of this series covered at-home remedies that the majority of patients find helpful.
Finally, what can dental professionals do to assist those suffering with TMD?
- Do nothing: I know this sounds counter-intuitive, but sometimes TMD is self-limiting and self-correcting. Mild to moderate TMD can sometimes be managed by the patient, as long as they are aware of the self-management techniques.
- Occlusal splint: Part I of the series explained how the teeth, if not appropriately positioned, can negatively affect the jaw joint. An occlusal splint does several things at once. One, the splint creates an artificial optimal occlusion. Two, the splint decreases the stress placed on the jaw joint, muscles, and teeth themselves. Three, the splint allows the jaw to move unhindered. These points are especially important if a patient grinds or clenches their teeth.
- Occlusal adjustment: The complexity of an occlusal adjustment can vary greatly. Depending on the extent of the malpositioned teeth, the procedure can range from an adjustment on one tooth to the entire dentition. In some instances, orthodontics (braces) is necessary to correct the occlusion.
- Chiropractor/Acupuncturist: Some patients find relief from therapies provided by a chiropractor or acupuncturist. Studies are limited and conflicted regarding these modalities, but if it works for you, then excellent.
- Injections: Botox can be used to decrease the contraction strength of the muscles associated with the jaw. This can provide relief, especially in patients who clench or grind their teeth.
- Surgery: There are multiple surgeries with varying levels of complexity and risk associated with them. In short, joint surgery can consist of micro-surgery, in which the joint fluids are replaced. The other end of the spectrum consists of total jaw joint replacement. The bottom line is that surgery should only be recommended as a treatment of last resort.
Wow, a three part series! To be honest, this series has only just scratched the surface of TMD and its treatment. My hope is that this series has given you, the patient, a solid foundation in understanding TMD and the potential treatments.
As always, if you or someone you know suffers from TMD, please do not hesitate to contact 58 Dental for a comprehensive evaluation to determine the appropriate diagnosis and treatment.
Kyle Griffith DMD
7090 E. Hampden Ave.
Denver, CO. 80224