The Use of Ibuprofen in the Treatment of Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMD)

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There are many avenues down which one can travel to treat Temporomandibular Joint Disorder, or TMD. One of the most common ways to treat is through using pharmaceutical methods. One of the least invasive of these methods is the use of Ibuprofen.


What is Ibuprofen?

Ibuprofen is a non-selective cyclooxygenase, or COX, inhibitor.


How Does Ibuprofen Work?

As already mentioned, Ibuprofen is a COX inhibitor. COX is a required enzyme in both pain and swelling pathways. By inhibiting COX, this drives down both of these pathways.


How Does Swelling Affect TMD?

As the temporomandibular joint, or TMJ, begins to swell from inflammation due to trauma from TMD, this pushes the lower jaw out of the TMJ. As this starts to push the jaw out of the joint, the teeth will no longer come into the same occlusion, or bite, that they did before. This can cause the teeth to prematurely come into occlusion with one another. By doing this, there will be trauma caused to the ligaments that surround the teeth. This inflammation will cause the teeth to come out of their sockets, in turn causing the teeth to come into occlusion with one another prematurely and potentially causing more damage to the TMJ, and exacerbating the TMD.

By using Ibuprofen, this decreases the amount of inflammation in the body, as a whole. This includes inside the jaw joint and around the teeth as well. By decreasing this inflammation, the TMJ can function more closely to a normally functioning TMJ.


How Does Ibuprofen Affect Pain?

By inhibiting COX, this in turn inhibits prostaglandin synthesis. Prostaglandins are required in the pain pathway of the human body. With less prostaglandins, there will be less pain.



Ibuprofen can be used on multiple levels to treat TMD. This is a very simplistic drug, and should be one of the first treatments to be attempted, as it is completely non-invasive.



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Justin Clemens
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