What Is TMJ Laser Therapy?
Posted by Dr. Julie Boudreault On 25-02-2021
Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ) refers to issues affecting the muscles in the jaw, the temporomandibular joint, and the surrounding area. The temporomandibular joint connects your jawbone to your skull and works like a hinge allowing you to open and close your mouth and move your jaw side to side. TMJ syndromes can be very painful, while also leading to dysfunction of the jaw making it difficult to open your mouth, move your jaw, chew, and more.
There are many reasons you might suffer from TMJ, from grinding or clenching your teeth to trauma, and from osteoarthritis to stress. Because it can be so painful, seeking treatment is very important. TMJ laser therapy offers a reasonably new and effective way to treat TMJ. Here’s how this form of laser dentistry Milton patients require can help.
What are the symptoms of TMJ disorder?
Common symptoms of TMJ disorders include:
- Pain in the sides of the face, jaw joint area, neck, shoulders
- Discomfort in and around the ear
- Popping, clicking, or grating sounds when opening or closing the jaw
- A feeling of tiredness in the face
- Discomfort or difficulty while chewing
- Swelling of the face
- Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
- Neck pain
As you can see, the long list of symptoms could make it easy for medical professionals to fail to diagnose TMJ disorders. If you do find you suffer from these symptoms without a satisfactory diagnosis it’s important to discuss the possibility of TMJ issues with your dentist.
Causes of TMJ Disorder
TMJ dysfunction is typically related to the constricted blood supply to the jaw and surrounding muscles. When this happens cellular waste buildup prevents oxygen from reaching cells so the healing process can begin. When this doesn’t happen inflammation worsens. However, you might also experience chemical changes in the muscle which in turn increases inflammatory chemical buildup as a result of muscle fatigue. This leads to muscle soreness and spasm.
How does TMJ laser therapy help?
TMJ laser therapy can be used to ease discomfort, pain, inflammation, and swelling of the jaw and surrounding muscles using a process called “photobiomodulation”. This process interacts with associated “intracellular biomolecules” to help increase the production of the body’s chemical form of energy called ATP. When this happens, it triggers improvements in:
- Cellular metabolism
- DNA production
- Cellular replication
- Replacement, regeneration, and repair of damaged cells
When low-level laser therapy is applied it increases blood flow to reduce cellular waste from building up in the damaged joints and muscles of the jaw. This is called “angiogenesis” and “neovascularization” which refers to the formation of new capillaries and other blood vessels necessary for healing and restoring proper function.
How does this reaction improve jaw function?
The entire process triggered by TMJ laser therapy removes damaged cells so you can break the cycle that is creating chronic inflammation. The therapy decreases the amount of oxidative stress which promotes cell survival while also reducing damage to cells. Light therapy also releases and increases cytokines, natural anti-inflammatories needed to promote tissue repair. At the same time, it decreases “pro-inflammatory” cytokines and prostaglandins to reduce pain.
Does it actually work?
Yes, studies show patients with TMJ disorders experienced an improved mandibular range of motion as well as impressive pain reduction after six months of treatment. In addition, it provides a reduction of pain over the long term.
A review of 13 different studies showed laser therapy provides anti-inflammatory benefits as well as pain reduction of the irradiated joint capsule.
TMJ therapy is precisely targeted using light energy for deep penetration of tissue surrounding the temporomandibular joint and the joint itself often providing instant relief including relief from symptoms such as headaches.
What other therapies are available?
There are many different therapies available, such as exercise or anti-inflammatory medicine. However, they are not as effective or as long-lasting as results seen by laser treatment for TMJ.
That said, it is important to keep in mind that what works for one person, does not always work in the exact same way for another. Because of this, TMJ treatment can be complicated. When the cause is “multifactorial” we might find that the best results require a combination of treatments such as:
- Chiropractic adjustments
- Massage therapy
- Cranio-mandibular therapy
However, the best way to receive proper treatment is to have a proper diagnosis. Through evaluation, we can determine the appropriate therapy or therapies.
Who performs Laser TMJ therapy?
We are trained to use laser equipment designed to provide targeted TMJ treatment. We use personalized treatment plans to target your specific condition to see the best possible outcomes. We use a light-emitting “wand” to target the affected tissues.
Does TMJ Laser therapy hurt?
No, we use cold lasers that are approved for safe, painless treatment of TMJ disorders. Cold lasers do not produce heat, so tissue is not “burned”. Instead, the cold lasers offer precision targeting, and deep tissue penetration without harming tissue, or causing even minor discomfort.
The result is immediate pain relief as the healing process is stimulated in your muscle and tissue. The cold laser stimulates cell growth and increases the blood flow, which not only reduces pain immediately but which also produces long-term benefits and long-lasting relief.
What are the benefits of TMJ Laser therapy?
There are many benefits of TMJ laser therapy including:
- Immediate reduction of muscle inflammation
- Immediate pain relief
- Triggers healing by increasing oxygen and blood flow in the jaw
- Non-invasive treatment
- No negative side-effects
- Quick appointments of just 10 minutes
Do I just need one treatment?
No, in most cases it takes at least two to three treatments to see long-term results. It depends on the patient, as the effects are cumulative. On average, patients require five to six treatments spaced out every two to four days. Following the recommended treatment schedule is the best way to improve outcomes and maximize the benefits of TMJ laser therapy.
To learn more about TMJ Laser Therapy, call Milltown Dental at (888) 250-8819 or contact us here.