Management of TMD
Because there is no known “cure” for TMD, management of patients with TMD symptoms is similar to management of patients with other orthopedic or rheumatologic disorders. The goals of TMD management include decrease in pain, decrease in adverse pressure or “loading” on the jaw joints, restoration of function of the jaw and normal daily activities. These goals are best achieved by identifying all contributing factors and implementing a well defined management program to treat physical, emotional and psychological factors. The management options and sequence of treatment for TMD are consistent with other musculoskeletal disorders found in the body. As in many musculoskeletal conditions, the signs and symptoms of TMD may be temporary and self-limiting without serious long term effects. For these reasons, special effort should be made to avoid aggressive or nonreversible therapy such as surgery, extensive dental treatment or orthodontic treatment. Conservative management techniques such as behavior modification, physical therapy, medication, jaw exercise and orthopedic appliances (orthotics) have proven to be safe and effective in the majority of TMD cases. Most patients suffering from TMD achieve good long term relief with conservative (reversible) therapy. Scientific research demonstrates that over 50% of TMD patients treated with conservative management have few or no ongoing symptoms of TMD.