This four-part article series provides an in-depth explanation of Temporomandibular Joint Disorders (TMD), looking at causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment.
Welcome back to our four-part article series on the causes, symptoms and treatment options for the disorders that affect the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). In our previous article, the third installment of the series, an experienced oral surgeon in Silver Spring began discussing the various conservative treatments there are to alleviate the pain, stiffness and discomfort associated with temporomandibular disorders (TMD).
When used collectively, these therapies offer a solid starting point and, in most cases, a conclusive solution to the problem. If, however, the basic treatment approach is not successful, the dentist may recommend a more aggressive treatment approach, such as ultrasound, radio wave therapy, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) or trigger-point injections. Surgery is a last resort and is usually reserved for severe cases of TMD.
In this article, the final installment of the series, a Maryland dental implants specialist will explain what these more aggressive treatment methods are.
Alternative TMD Treatment Approaches:
2. Radio Wave Therapy increases blood flow to the joint via gentle electrical stimulation. This helps to relieve pain.
3. Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) makes use of gentle electrical currents to relax the facial muscles and joint, thus providing relief.
4. Trigger-point Injections directly supply painful and tense facial and neck muscles with pain medication.
Surgery for TMD
“A last resort treatment for temporomandibular disorders is surgery,” explains the dental expert in Silver Spring. “Only once we have exhausted all other treatment options will be recommend surgery, predominantly because the outcomes of this treatment cannot be reversed.”
There are three main kinds of TMD related surgical procedures and the one recommended to Silver Spring residents depends upon their particular problem.
An arthrocentesis is a simple and straightforward procedure that can be performed in the office of a skilled dentist. It’s usually recommended to Silver Spring residents who have experienced a sudden onset of TMD symptoms, such as lockjaw or restricted opening. These patients will not have a significant history of TMD. The procedure is performed under anesthesia and involves the irrigation and sterilization of the affected joint.
An arthroscopy is performed under general anesthesia. The dentist will first determine the cause of TMD by examining the joint and surrounding area via a small incision and a special dental light and tiny camera. He or she will correct and realign the disc and joint and remove and inflamed tissue (if present). This procedure only involves a small, minor incision and so is far less invasive than open joint surgery. It also has a shorter recovery time.
3. Open Joint Surgery
“In certain severe cases of TMD, open joint surgery may be necessary in order to provide the patient with permanent respite from the painful symptoms of this condition,” explains a Maryland dental specialist. “No dentist recommends surgery lightly, so it’s only after much deliberation that he or she will decide to proceed with open joint surgery.”
This procedure is performed under general anesthesia and involves the complete exposure of the joint, unlike an arthroscopy, which only requires a small incision. The exact procedure followed to provide treatment depends on cause of TMD, for example, the deterioration of the bone comprising the joint or the presence of growths and tumors. The dentist in Silver Spring will advise you accordingly and explain what you can expect prior to the procedure.