TMD (temporomandibular disorder), also known as TMJ disorder and MFP (myofascial pain) disorder exhibit discomfort and pain in areas near the jaw joints as well as the temples and underlying cheek areas. TMD is different from MFP disorder in that TMD is actual discomfort associated in the anatomical region of the jaw joint. MFP disorder is associated with discomfort in the muscles of mastication (temporalis muscles near the “temple” regions of the head and the masseter/pterygoid muscles underlying the cheeks). These muscles of mastication can become sore and even painful from certain deleterious habits like clenching and/or grinding during sleep or times of stress.
Diagnosis and Treatment Planning
There are a number of treatment options available to correct TMD/MFP disorders. Your particular treatment should be determined after a thorough consultation and evaluation of your temporomandibular joint regions and associated muscles of mastication. This specific examination will consist of a full medical/dental health history, intra-oral and extra-oral examination, as well as specific images (tomograms, photographs, and radiographs, as well as a radiologist’s report). Once all the records have been evaluated, then a definitive diagnosis and treatment plan can be formulated.
Treatments for TMD/MPF Disorders: Conservative is Key
"Conservative" is the key word when it comes to TMD/MFP treatments. Many treatments for TMD/MFP symptoms can be simple and be done without the need for invasive surgery, depending on the diagnosis. Many of these cases may require treatment with splints, mouth guards or other traditional forms of TMD/MFP therapy. Regardless of the treatment prescribed for you, it is important that you follow your doctor’s instructions. You should also keep up with routine dental visits so your dentist can regularly monitor your TMD/MFP symptoms.
Traditional Treatments for TMD/MPF Disorders
A careful and thorough examination of the joints, occlusion, and muscles of mastication is a critical step before a specific treatment is selected. Only a small percentage of TMD cases require surgical intervention. If an improper bite is the cause of the TMD/MPF symptoms, some corrections can be achieved with orthodontics, restorations, equilibration or appliance therapy.
Appliance Therapy (Splint or Night Guard)
Typically the first line of treatment provided will be the use of an occlusal splint and palliative measures. The occlusal splint is worn to reduce stress on the jaw and muscles of mastication. This allows the muscles to function optimally and/or to cover the deflective interferences affecting the bite so that the lower jaw can be repositioned into the jaw joint properly. If a splint helps relieve the pain, it is possible that your bite or parafunctional habit was causing the problem. The appliance that is best for you will be decided based upon clinical findings, symptoms and diagnostic tests (X-rays, etc.). Such appliances may help improve your bite while it is in place, thus providing the ability for the lower jaw to fall properly into the temporomandibular joint socket.