The temporomandibular joint (TMJ), when not functioning properly, can cause a tremendous amount of pain. The tissues behind the joint (retrodiscal tissues) have many nerves that run through them. Once they become inflamed, any slight pressure will cause pain and perpetuate the problem.
Treatment involves unloading these tissues to allow them to recover and try to avoid allowing the problem to recur. Depending on your history and symptoms, your prosthodontist may recommend a stabilization/occlusal splint (bite guard) to treat your pain. This custom-made plastic device fits over the upper or lower teeth and is used to control the interaction between the top and bottom teeth and maintains the joint in a healthy position. Stabilization splints are the most common treatments for TMJ disorders, including facial pain. Facial or jaw pain in the chewing muscles or jaw joint is a common symptom of temporomandibular joint disorders.
Prosthodontists are trained to treat temporomandibular joint disorders. Several treatment options exist depending on the cause and severity of the symptoms. All of these options are conservative and do not produce permanent damage to the teeth. These treatment options include physical therapy and exercise, pharmacologic treatment, and occlusal splints/orthotic devices.