Traditional medical therapy is to treat a disease or symptom with a drug, or pharmaceutical. Traditional dental therapy is to treat a symptom or disease with a procedure. One must ask, however, what is a patient to do when the disease or its associated symptoms lie somewhere in between. This is the case with temporomandibular joint disorder, or TMD.
Traditional Treatment of TMD
Traditional treatments of TMD were mainly dental in nature. Many of the traditional treatments involve changing the way teeth come together, or occlude, and protecting them from one another in abnormal occlusion circumstances.
This type of treatment is very effective in most instances; however, in some cases, this type of treatment is not adequate. In these instances, the practitioner will start to look for other forms of treatment, most of which are pharmaceutical in nature.
Pharmaceutical Treatment of TMD
One typical form of TMD treatment is the use of anti-inflammatories. These anti-inflammatories attack the TMD symptoms on several levels. Anti-inflammatories will reduce overall body inflammation. This reduction in inflammation will lead to a reduction in pain.
These anti-inflammatories can also have a positive net result on the orofacial complex. This is accomplished by reducing the amount of inflammation in the temporomandibular joint, or TMJ, itself. As the TMJ swells, it will push the lower jaw out of its socket. This dislocation of the bone leads to the teeth not occluding together appropriately. This malocclusion then will lead to further TMD issues.
Another typical treatment for TMD is using a muscle relaxant. This muscle relaxant will help the teeth from occluding with one another so strongly. By preventing strong occlusion, this reduces the force on the TMJ, and thus the overall effects of TMD will be lessened.
Neurologic pharmaceuticals can also be used in the treatment of TMD. These types of pharmaceuticals will prevent the nerve that makes the muscle contract from firing as often. This, in turn, will then lessen the amount of force that is placed on the TMD.
All of these types of pharmaceutical treatments are acceptable forms of treatment; however, a precise plan must be developed with your practitioner to treat the patient’s exact disorder.
What is The Proper Way To Treat TMD?
There is no easy way to answer the question as to what is the correct way to treat TMD. There is no easy way to answer this question due to the fact that patients and, therefore, their disorders are all different. A treatment plan for TMD, especially those that are more severe, must be developed for that individual and be custom fit.
The treatments for TMD can be as diverse as the patients that have the disorder. To properly treat these, one must have a practitioner develop a plan just for them.
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Dr. Clemens has since devoted the majority of his career to implant therapy. His career practicing was, unfortunately, cut short when he was involved in a tragic automobile accident in 2014. He now devotes his life to the education of dentists in implant therapy.
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