TMJ / TMD Treatment
Once Dr. Widen has diagnosed you with TMJ, he will determine the best course of treatment for your specific needs. Typically treatment will follow three steps:
1) Relieve muscle spasm and pain.
The immediate concern for Dr. Widen, a neuromuscular dentist is to provide relief of your symptoms. The best way to do this is by using a technology called ULF-TENS. ULF-TENS stands for Ultra Low Frequency Transcutaneous Electrical Neural Stimulation, but don’t let this term intimidate you. Basically, ULF-TENS is a way to relax muscles with a gentle massage of the muscles. The rhythmic pulsing relaxes the muscles by increasing blood flow and pumping out waste products. ULF-TENS also helps with pain relief by stimulating the body’s production of endorphins, the body’s natural anesthetic.
2) Stabilize the bite.
Often for this step a temporary device, known as an orthotic is worn over the teeth. The orthotic allows your neuromuscular dentist to make easy adjustments to the plastic without adjusting the teeth until the bite is stabilized.
There are two types of orthotics. Firstly, a removable one that usually lays on the lower teeth and takes up the space between your old bite and your newly determined bite. This is worn 22/7 and is to be taken out for brushing and flossing and sometimes to eat. Others continue to wear their orthotic while eating because it makes the joint feel better. Secondly, the orthotic can be made to be fixed onto your lower teeth as extensions of your own teeth made in plastic. This makes cleaning the teeth more difficult and is to be worn only when committed to doing a phase 2 treatment to stabilize the bite position. This should be worn for no longer than 1 year. otherwise decay can occur under the orthotic.
Once symptoms are relieved and the bite has been stabilized, your dentist will move on to the next step and permanently adjust your bite to the correct position, this would be phase 2 treatment.