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TMJ & TMD Treatment - Albuquerque, NM

Lasting Relief From Jaw & Head Pain

Man and woman laughing together after T M J therapy

Most people have experienced headaches/migraines, ear pain, or jaw pain at some point in their lives, but what may be surprising is that all of these issues can have the same cause—a strained or injured temporomandibular joint (TMJ). If any of these problems sound familiar, and you haven’t been able to find relief despite visiting multiple doctors, then TMJ and TMD treatment in Albuquerque, NM may be the long-term solution you have been looking for.

Why Choose Center for Dental Sleep Medicine and TMJ of New Mexico for TMJ & TMD Treatment?

  • Science-Backed Approach That Treats the Source of TMD
  • State-of-the-Art Diagnostic Technology
  • Medical/Dental Insurance Accepted & Maximized

What is TMJ/TMD?

Animated jaw and skull bone used to diagnose T M J dysfunction

Your TMJ is the set of small hinges located right in front of your ears, and they allow your lower jaw to move freely in all directions, giving you the ability to eat, speak, laugh, and yawn. The TMJ is one of the most complicated joints in the body. But, due to a misaligned bite, teeth grinding, and other factors, it can often develop tension and chronic pain, known as a TMJ disorder, or TMD.

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Signs & Symptoms

Woman holding jaw in pain before T M J therapy

A TMD can be the cause of many symptoms that seemingly have nothing to do with the jaw. Because of the orientation of the oral and cranial muscles, tension can easily radiate from the jaw into the head or neck. In addition to pain, a jaw that excessively clicks or pops when moving, or becomes stuck opening or closing, may also indicate a TMD. Of course, the most telling symptom is pain, which can fall into multiple categories:

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Man with migraine holding temples

Headaches & Migraines

One of the most underdiagnosed causes of frequent headaches and migraines is TMD. The jaw muscles become tense, strained, or overworked, and it’s very easy for this to affect the nearby muscles in the head. This connection is why so many people seeking out treatment for head pain never seem to be able to find lasting relief—because the true source is not being addressed.

Man with tinnitus holding his ears

Ear Pain & Tinnitus

The TMJ is located extremely close to the ears, so a dysfunctional joint can easily lead to ear pain. A TMD can also cause someone to develop a constant tone or ringing in their ears, known as tinnitus, which can be extremely annoying and make it very difficult to sleep.

Man with jaw pain holding cheek

Face & Jaw Pain

Jaw stiffness and pain are the most common symptoms associated with TMD. A person may find it hard to chew comfortably and may even experience lockjaw while opening or closing their mouth. The pain may manifest as a constant, dull ache, or someone may experience a sudden flash of sharp pain while moving their mouth.

Woman in pain due to bruxism

Bruxism (Teeth Grinding)

Bruxism can be the result of daily stress and/or a misaligned bite where the upper and lower teeth do not fit together properly. It primarily occurs while someone is asleep. As a result, the enamel is worn down, the jaw muscles are overworked, and a person may wake up with a headache or sore jaw without knowing why.

Diagnosing TMD

X ray of jaw and skull bone used to diagnose T M J dysfunction

Many factors can lead to the development of TMD—stress, teeth grinding, a crooked bite, injury, arthritis, a slipped disc, and more. We’ll closely examine your joint using the latest technology so we can see exactly how it moves and determine the proper alignment for your teeth and jaw. With this information, we can put together a personalized treatment plan that is designed to stop the pain in the short term and prevent it from coming back in the long-term.

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Treating TMD

Woman leaning on couch smiling after TMJ treatment

Once we’ve confirmed that you have TMD and have narrowed down the underlying issues contributing to it, we can put together a treatment plan to ease your pain. The answer isn’t the same for every patient; some cases are mild enough that a few lifestyle changes are enough to make a difference whereas others are more advanced and might requires surgery. Whatever treatment you end up undergoing, our team will be with every step of the way to answer questions and help you find the best path to lasting relief.

Self-Care for TMD

Woman holding ice pack to face for TMJ treatment

Oftentimes, TMD is a result of chronic stress and anxiety that causes you to clench your jaw and grind your teeth. It might also be caused by overworking the jaw joints, such as by frequently chewing gum. For this reason, self-care can often go a long way towards TMD relief, and we’re more than happy to give you a few suggestions. These tips can also be combined with other treatments to ensure that you get the best possible results.

Some of our recommendations for treat TMD on your own may include the following:

  • Whenever you experience pain, apply an ice pack to your jaw joint for 15 minutes at a time.
  • Pick up some pain medication over the counter and use as directed.
  • Switch to a soft food diet for a while. When eating, take only small bites that don’t require much chewing.
  • Perform facial or jaw stretches that help strengthen and relax the jaw.

Oral Appliance Therapy

Woman holding oral appliance for TMJ treatment

When you need professional treatment for your TMD, oral appliance therapy is a very common noninvasive solution. There are a few different appliances on the market that can be used to address specific problems, but in general, they work by adjusting the alignment of the jaw, taking some of the stress off the jaw joint so that it can rest. The appliance will also cushion the teeth to protect the jaw from constant grinding or clenching.

Once you start using your oral appliance, you may notice your symptoms gradually fading over time. Usually, it takes about 4 to 6 months of wearing the appliance to get the desired results. Some appliances are worn all day while others are worn only at night; we can give more specific instructions before starting your treatment.

Surgical Treatment for TMD Pain

Model of skull for planning surgery for TMJ treatment

Sometimes TMD is too complex or severe to be corrected with noninvasive options, which is why surgery might be suggested as a last resort if other treatments have failed. There are different kinds of TMD surgery to choose from. The least invasive is arthrocentesis, where medication is injected directly into the jaw joint. In other cases, open-joint surgery can be performed. In cases where there’s difficulty diagnosing the problem, an arthroscopy may be recommended; this involves inserting a camera into the joint to get a firsthand look at the area and planning an appropriate treatment based on our findings.

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