Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders affect almost 10 million Americans.
The temporomandibular joint is located where the mandible (lower jaw) hinges to the temporal bone, just in front of the ears. This joint allows you to talk, chew, yawn and open wide at the dentist.
When a patient develops a problem in this critical joint, it is commonly referred to as TMJ syndrome or temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMD).
Treatment options were previously limited to radical surgery or pain management. But with laser therapy, you can overcome TMJ syndrome with just a few painless, non-invasive treatments.
What Is TMJ Syndrome?
TMJ problems typically develop as a result of repetitive motion and excess stress on the joint and surrounding tissues. This causes the articular disc — which cushions jaw movement — to dislocate. The dislocation then allows for bone-on-bone contact, leading to the familiar popping, grinding or clicking sounds we associate with TMJ syndrome and TMD.
Most TMJ syndrome patients grind their teeth, a condition known as bruxism, particularly in their sleep. The primary cause of TMD is stress; however, trauma, misaligned teeth, osteoarthritis and even nail biting or gum chewing can lead to this problem.
The most common symptoms are pain in and around the jaw, earaches, headaches, jaw stiffness, neck pain and acute pain associated with certain actions, such as chewing or yawning.
How Does Laser Therapy Work for Treating TMJ Syndrome?
Laser therapy, sometimes called low light laser therapy (LLLT) or cold laser, penetrates skin and tissue to reach the problem area. The light waves trigger the cells and tissues to achieve several specific goals.
First, the laser helps the body reduce inflammation. It increases blood flow to the affected area and stimulates production of more red blood cells. Laser treatment increases oxygen flow and lymphatic activity as well.
This process addresses the pain of TMD, providing quick relief and kicking the body’s natural healing mechanisms into overdrive.
How Effective Is Laser Therapy for TMJ Problems?
The research supports laser light therapy as being highly effective for treating jaw disorders such as TMD and its related and referred pain. This treatment is especially beneficial for those patients who have had long-lasting jaw pain from TMD.
Most patients require a series of treatments to achieve full healing. However, the treatments are quick and painless.
It is important to note that laser light therapy is most effective for treating TMD related to osteoarthritis, trauma or chronic conditions. If your problems are the result of an issue like bruxism, laser treatments will also provide effective relief. However, treating the underlying condition as well is the best way to prevent a recurrence.
The treatment process begins when you schedule a consultation with Dr. Muir. He will take a detailed medical history and examine your jaw to help determine the cause and extent of your TMD.
If Dr. Muir believes that laser light therapy can help, we will schedule a series of treatments that work with your schedule. The number and duration of treatments you need depends on the nature and progression of your condition. Some patients need a series of laser treatments while others need only a few.
Each laser treatment is performed by Dr. Muir, here in our Draper, Utah, office. Laser treatments are non-invasive and cause no discomfort. In fact, most patients find the treatments to be pleasant and relaxing.
Utah Laser Therapy offers a wide range of infrared laser therapy, appropriate for treating a wide variety of problems. Contact our office today to schedule a consultation to discuss laser therapy for TMJ disorders.