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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.

BOTOX for TMJ Treatment

Patient receiving BOTOX injection near her jaw

Many people think of BOTOX as a purely cosmetic treatment, and indeed, it is useful for smoothing out wrinkles. However, it can do so much more. In fact, it has some outstanding medical applications. In some cases, a person suffers from persistent discomfort because of tension in the muscles around their temporomandibular joint (TMJ). Carefully placed BOTOX injections can help those muscles to relax and provide significant pain relief. BOTOX may be a standalone TMJ treatment, or it may be combined with other therapies to produce optimum results.

What Is BOTOX?

Syringe next to vials of clear liquid

BOTOX is the brand name for a diluted form of the bacteria that is scientifically known as botulinum toxin. When BOTOX is carefully injected into the muscles around the TMJ, it limits their movements and forces them to relax. This can reduce muscular tension and lead to significant pain relief.

A BOTOX treatment usually takes just a few minutes, and no downtime will be required after your appointment. Within 5 – 10 days, you may start to notice a significant reduction in your TMD symptoms. The results have the potential to last anywhere from 3 to 6 months.

Are You a Good Candidate for BOTOX for TMJ Treatment?

Frowning woman holding the sides of her face

BOTOX may work as a part of your TMJ treatment plan if you are experiencing:

  • Pain and tenderness in your jaw.
  • Lockjaw or limited jaw movement.
  • Neck and back pain.
  • Soreness in your facial muscles.
  • Pain or difficulty while chewing.
  • Ringing in your ears.
  • Chronic bruxism (grinding and clenching of your teeth).
  • Frequent headaches or migraines.

BOTOX is a wonderful means for providing temporary TMD relief. However, it does not address the underlying cause of TMD symptoms. Therefore, it is often combined with other treatments to produce long-lasting results.

How Can BOTOX Treat TMJ Disorder?

Smiling, beautiful woman with hands on the sides of her face

BOTOX has an excellent track record of helping people who struggle with symptoms of TMD. For example, one study found that BOTOX led to improvements for 90% of participants who were dealing with TMJ issues. A separate study, released in 2012, found that BOTOX decreased pain associated with mouth movements for three months after the treatment.

BOTOX is an invaluable provision for people who are looking to sleep better, eat more comfortably, and get back to enjoying a healthy, pain-free smile.

TMJ Treatment FAQs

Concerned-looking older man touching his jaw

Our team at the Center for Dental Sleep Medicine and TMJ of New Mexico is fully dedicated to helping you put a stop to your jaw pain. If you have any questions about TMJ disorder or our options for treating it, please contact us; one of our knowledgeable team members will give you the answers you need. The following FAQs address several inquiries that we often hear from patients seeking TMJ therapy.

How Long Does It Take for a TMJ Oral Appliance to Work?

Yes, the treatments we use to address TMJ therapy are considered safe. Oral appliance therapy is a proven method of relieving jaw pain, and there is little risk associated with it. There are a few side effects that might occur, such as excessive salivation, dry mouth, tooth discomfort, and temporary bite changes. Each of these side effects should normally only last for a short time.

When it comes to surgical treatment for TMJ disorder, there’s always some level of risk involved. However, our team will take every precaution to ensure that you remain safe and comfortable during your procedure. It’s worth emphasizing that we will only recommend surgery if there’s no other option.

Can TMJ Be Cured Permanently?

In many cases, TMJ disorder can be reversed with the right type of treatment. For example, oral appliance therapy is used to correct the alignment of your jaw to take some of the pressure off your jaw joints. By addressing the underlying cause of your TMJ disorder in this way, we can potentially put a stop to your pain for good.

Is TMJ Treatment Covered by Insurance?

TMJ therapy can potentially fall under medical or dental insurance depending on the cause and the kind of treatment being performed. This is because while the TMJ isn’t considered to be exclusively related to dentistry, there are several TMJ treatments (in particular oral appliance therapy) that can only be performed by a trained dental expert.

The coverage you receive for TMJ treatment depends on what policy you have. It might also vary based on the state you live in; oftentimes insurance companies will not pay for TMJ procedures unless they’re required to by state law. Furthermore, some plans are more specific than others and only cover certain types of procedures. You should call your dental insurance provider to confirm your coverage before you begin TMJ treatment.

Is TMJ Treatment Safe?

If you turn to a qualified dentist for TMJ care, then you can expect them to adhere to the most rigorous safety standards. Our team always starts out with the most conservative options that are known to have few to no unwanted side effects. Some advanced TMD services do carry a small degree of risk, but the potential benefits far outweigh the remote chance that a treatment will cause severe adverse consequences.

On the other hand, if you do not carefully choose your TMJ treatment provider, or if you follow “hacks” that are not backed up by medical science, you could face bad consequences. There is a chance that your pain could worsen or that you might experience other undesirable outcomes.

How Long Does TMJ Treatment Take?

The timeline for TMJ treatment varies from case to case and depends on a number of details. For example, some at-home remedies can cause immediate pain relief, but they often do not address the root cause of the problem. The pain is likely to keep returning.

A course of professional treatment that seeks to provide long-lasting relief could take several weeks or months to produce noticeable results. That may be the case with oral appliance therapy. Surgery, on the other hand, may be a relatively quick procedure. However, it may come with a significant recovery period before you can fully experience its benefits.

Can TMD Be Treated Without Surgery?

In many cases, it is entirely possible to provide significant TMJ pain relief without surgical intervention. In fact, we strive to recommend surgery only as a last result because the TMJ is a complex joint, and altering it or the surrounding structures is a delicate undertaking.

Some non-surgical ways to address TMD include at-home remedies, lifestyle changes, and oral appliance therapy.

Is TMJ Treatment Expensive?

The price of TMJ therapy varies from case to case. It depends on many factors, such as the exact cause of your pain, the treatment we recommend, the length of your treatment course, and more. The fact is that you could ultimately pay anywhere from a few hundred dollars to hundreds of thousands of dollars to correct your TMD.

Keep in mind that although TMJ treatment can seem expensive in some cases, it is an incredibly valuable service. In exchange for your money, you are likely to find freedom from jaw pain and the other symptoms that can come with TMD, such as headaches, migraines, back pain, and more. Your quality of life may greatly improve! Also, it is important to remember that most patients can take advantage of provisions to make their care more affordable. For example, the majority of people are eligible for financing

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