Center For Dental Medicine • 2019 Galisteo St, J2 • Santa Fe, NM 87505 • 505.474.4644

How is TMD treated?

An accurate diagnosis is the key to treatment.

"TMJ" and "TMD" are not diagnoses. The first is a name of a joint, and the second is a broad category of disorders. An accurate diagnosis will describe the actual source and cause of the pain. For example, the pain may be primarily in the muscles, which is myalgia, or in the joints, which is arthralgia. The pain may be caused by breakdown of the bone inside the temporomandibular joint, which is degenerative arthritis, or may be caused by a TMJ disc that is out of place, which is disc displacement. If the disc sometimes goes back into its correct position, it is disc displacement with reduction. If the disc never goes back into its correct position it is disc displacement without reduction.

There are many combinations of factors that contribute to head, neck, and facial pain. An accurate diagnosis helps to pinpoint the reason for your symptoms, and to guide us toward a solution.

There are many treatments, depending on the diagnosis.

Depending on the diagnosis, there are various treatments that may be appropriate. For example, if the ligaments in the temporomandibular joints are sprained, an orthotic that limits certain jaw positions may be required to allow the ligaments to heal. Injections may speed the ligament healing. Physical therapy referrals might be helpful. Electrical stimulation could be used to speed the healing. Medications might be necessary to reduce inflammation and give relief from pain.

This same types of decision-making would be applied to determine the best treatment for the various temporomandibular disorders. There are far too many combinations of diagnoses and treatment to discuss here. You will be told the diagnoses and possible treatments after your diagnosis has been made.

Treatment time varies, depending on many factors. Some of those factors are how long the problem has existed, how your body responds to the treatments, and how closely you follow the recommendations for home care. In general, relief of symptoms will take 3 months to a year. Some people will heal more quickly, and some more slowly. Patience is a virtue.

Phase 1 Versus Phase 2 Treatment

Relief of pain is generally the goal of Phase 1 treatment. When you have reached your maximum comfort level, you will be re-evaluated to determine if additional treatment is needed to stabilize your jaw and continue your ability to function in comfort. The additional treatment is considered Phase 2 treatment. This is usually done by your general dentist or an orthodontist. We will discuss this with you at the appropriate time.

Call us

If you are here to learn if your pain might be TMD, we are happy to answer by phone any questions you may have. Call us at 505-474-4644.

If you would like to make an appointment, we feel it is best to do so by phone. Computerized appointment systems try to make you fit the system. We try our best to fit your needs.