Self Care Is a Great Start for TMJ Treatment

Boutique Dentistry for Nashville, Tennessee

If you are experiencing facial pain related to a temporomandibular joint disorder (abbreviated TMJ or TMD), your best bet is to start with home care.That’s according to a new study that shows most people get benefit from home care treatments.

However, if you don’t get enough benefit from your home care, it’s important that you seek out an expert TMJ dentist, like Dr. Kent E. White in Nashville, whose extensive training, talent, and experience lets him deliver high-quality TMJ treatments. He has a record of providing genuine relief for his patients–check out some of his reviews.

Woman practicing self care at home. Yoga can help with in home TMJ treatment

The Benefits of Self-Care

For this study, researchers at New York University interviewed 125 women with myofascial temporomandibular joint disorder (mTMD), a condition in which the source of discomfort is the jaw muscles. The interviewees included 26 women who also had fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia is a chronic pain condition commonly associated with TMJ. We don’t know the exact cause of fibromyalgia, but some speculate that it’s caused by central sensitization. Researchers asked these women about the types of drug-free treatments they used and what results they experienced.

The study showed that, on average, women used 2.4 TMJ treatments. This is not a surprise. The complex condition often doesn’t benefit from just a single treatment. Respondents listed these as the types of treatments they tried:

  • Oral appliances (59%)
  • Physical therapy (54%)
  • At-home jaw exercises (34%)
  • Acupuncture (20%)
  • Seeing a chiropractor (18%)
  • Trigger point injection (14%)
  • Exercise or yoga (7%)
  • Meditation or controlled breathing (6%)

Researchers also asked people if they benefitted “at least a little” (according to the press release). The results showed that over 84% of respondents said that they benefitted from home care, which included at-home exercises, yoga, warm compresses, and more.

In contrast, only 64% of people who used oral appliances saw benefit, and 11% said that the oral appliance made their pain worse.

Problems with the Study

We don’t dispute the main findings of the study, that home care has great benefits for TMJ sufferers. We recommend it.

However, we do want to call attention to some shortcomings of the study that might skew the findings when it comes to oral appliances. First, there is no method in this study for ascertaining how much benefit patients saw from the various treatments. This can make a big difference in our understanding of how effective the treatments really are. For example, the 84% of people reporting home care might have had only minor reductions in pain, while the 64% of oral appliance users might have experienced dramatic reductions in pain, potentially even full relief, but the study didn’t report that.

Second, there’s no reporting in this study on the expertise level of dentists (and others) treating patients with oral appliances. TMJ is not an easy condition to treat, and many of the dentists offering treatment have little training or experience in doing so. It’s likely that the low numbers for oral appliance success are related to inexpert dentists, or even people using appliances they bought over-the-counter or online.

Find an Expert TMJ Dentist in Nashville

If you are suffering from TMJ and are unhappy with the results you’re getting from home care and other treatments, you should seek out a TMJ dentist with a proven track record of providing quality care.

To learn whether you can benefit from TMJ treatment at the Center for Advanced Dentistry, please call (615) 383-6787 today for an appointment with Dr. Kent E. White.