What To Do After TMJ Treatment
TMJ, or the temporomandibular joint, is the joint that allows you to open and close your mouth with ease. With that in mind, some people don’t find the process of opening their jaws so easy — and this could be because of a potential TMJ disorder. Visiting a dental specialist or TMJ clinic can help you determine whether the locking and popping you’re experiencing requires further treatment in order to make chewing easy again.
What does a TMJ disorder feel like?
If you have a TMJ disorder, you may feel any number of these symptoms:
- Locking of your jaw, making it difficult to close or open
- Pain that radiates anywhere from the jaw, to your ear area, to the overall face
- Difficulty chewing that may or may not be accompanied by pain
- Tenderness around the joint (just below your ears on either side of your face)
- Clicking or popping sounds when chewing, maybe accompanied by a grating sensation
While there are a lot of people who live with TMJ clicking pain-free, it’s a good idea to get it checked out by a doctor or dentist to assess the cause. In some cases, no treatment is needed, but if there is pain then there are ways to alleviate it.
Potential causes and risk factors
TMJ disorders can occur or are more likely to occur if:
- You are already showing signs of arthritis which erode cartilage
- There has been injury (like a blow or other impact) to your jaw
- You frequently grind or clench your teeth
- You have a connective tissue disease which can affect the TMJ
- The disk has eroded and moved out of alignment
Not all cases of TMJ disorders can be pinpointed to a specific cause, but if you have experienced any of these risk factors and are beginning to hear clicking or feel tenderness in your jaw, seek out a professional opinion.
After treatment care
Now that you’ve sought out TMJ treatment and your doctor has pointed you in the right direction, you may be experiencing a few different things. Firstly, what you encounter depends on the treatment route you underwent. Some people find themselves not having to undergo surgery and instead are advised to eat soft food and avoid gum, as well as apply ice and head rotationally to decrease inflammation. Alternatively, some dentists and doctors recommend trying out different pillows as an at-home remedy for proper neck support alongside regular jaw stretches and exercises. If all of these don’t alleviate pain and tenderness, then surgery may be an option for you.
Surgery is a last resort as there are countless other ways to address the underlying causes of your pain before this. If surgery is something you’re considering, you can expect a full liquid diet for 48 hours after the procedure. Frequent icing will be helpful, but you can’t get the surgical site wet for the first four days. Antibiotic ointment is helpful to have whenever bandaids need to be replaced on the incision. There is usually a splint involved that your surgeon will give you in advance. Follow up appointments will likely be necessary to maintain postoperative health and to prescribe any necessary medications to manage pain, inflammation, and muscular spasms. A lot of patients also find physical therapy afterward very helpful.
If you’ve exhausted all your options and surgery seems like the way to go, it is a route you can take at the direction of a dental professional. Luckily, TMJ pain treatment options are plentiful because of the tender nature of the joint. There are countless ways to approach the pain you are experiencing before resorting to surgery.
If you are experiencing locking, clicking, pain, or tenderness surrounding your temporomandibular joint, reach out to Markham 7 Dental for tailored treatment options.