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Surgical vs. Non-Surgical Treatments for TMJ Disorders

Having authored multiple articles on TMJ, this piece introduces a novel perspective, contrasting surgical and non-surgical treatments. TMJ disorders, causing symptoms like jaw pain and difficulty chewing, prompt patients to choose between these approaches. This discussion aims to elucidate the best course of action for individual cases.


When seeking treatment for TMJ disorders, patients often encounter two primary options: surgical and non-surgical interventions. Let me today examine closely the differences between these approaches to help you understand which might be best for you.


These conservative methods focus on relieving pain and enhancing jaw function without resorting to invasive surgical procedures.


Lifestyle Modifications:


Adopting specific lifestyle changes can contribute to the management of TMJ disorders. Some effective modifications include:


a. Soft Diet: Consuming soft foods can reduce the stress placed on the jaw muscles and TMJ, thereby reducing pain and discomfort.


b. Stress Reduction: High levels of stress can exacerbate TMJ symptoms. Engaging in stress-reduction techniques, such as meditation, yoga, or deep breathing exercises, can help alleviate tension and promote relaxation.


Heat or Cold Therapy:


Applying heat or cold packs to the jaw area can provide relief for those suffering from TMJ disorders. Heat therapy can improve blood circulation and relax tight muscles, while cold therapy can help reduce inflammation and numb the area, offering temporary pain relief.


Dental Interventions:


In addition to lifestyle changes, dental interventions can play a crucial role in managing TMJ disorders. Some common dental treatments include:


a. Oral Splints: Custom-made oral splints, also known as mouthguards, can help alleviate pressure on the TMJ and reduce grinding or clenching habits that contribute to discomfort.


b. Bite Adjustment: I use a tool called TekScan to assess your biting and based on which I may make minor adjustments to a patient's bite, ensuring proper alignment and reducing stress on the TMJ.


c. Intraarticular Injections: These include injections of small dose of steroids or hyaluronic acid. Prolotherapy which uses PRP (platelet rich fibrin) may also be utilised if i feel necessary.


d. Muscle injections: These include the same type of products used in Facial Rejuvenation to relax facial muscles eg: botulinum toxin or "Botox". The aim would be to reduce the strength of the jaw muscles so that the TMJ is not stressed as much as before.


Other treatments that I may prescribe include: TENS treatment, Low Level Laser Therapy.


Surgical Treatments for TMJ Disorders: When Non-Surgical Approaches Fall Short with an Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeon


In certain cases, non-surgical treatments may not provide adequate relief for TMJ disorders, or structural issues within the joint may require surgical intervention. Various surgical options are available, depending on the specific nature of the problem. These procedures aim to correct underlying issues and alleviate symptoms. Whilst I do not do all the invasive surgical procedures, I jointly work with a trusted Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeon to provide holistic management of the TMJ.


Arthrocentesis:


This minimally invasive procedure involves flushing out the TMJ with sterile fluid to remove debris and inflammatory substances. Arthrocentesis can help reduce joint inflammation and alleviate pain.


Arthroscopy:


Using a small camera called an arthroscope, surgeons can visualise and treat the TMJ without making large incisions. This minimally invasive technique allows for precise diagnosis and treatment of joint issues, often resulting in faster recovery times.


Open Joint Surgery:


In severe cases, open joint surgery may be necessary to correct structural abnormalities or repair damaged tissues within the TMJ. This surgical approach involves making an incision in the jaw to access the joint and address underlying problems.


Ultimately, determining whether to pursue surgical or non-surgical treatments for TMJ disorders should involve consulting a dentist who has special interest in TMJ treatment.They can evaluate your condition and recommend the best course of treatment.Through careful consideration of the advantages and drawbacks of each approach, patients can make educated choices to address their TMJ disorder.



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