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Integrative Care for TMJ: Combining Dental and Medical Treatments

Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ) can be a frustrating condition to live with for those who experience it. Symptoms can range from headaches and jaw pain to stiffness and difficulty eating. Unfortunately, there is no one size fits all treatment for this condition, but a new model is showing promising results. Integrative care for TMJ involves treating the disorder from both a dental and medical perspective, and balancing this with other lifestyle changes.

What is TMJ and What Causes it?

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the joint that connects the jawbone to the skull. When this joint is injured, damaged, or inflamed, it can cause a range of symptoms, including pain or tenderness in the jaw, aches and pains around the head, and difficulty chewing. The cause of TMJ is not always clear, but some of the most commonly cited causes include jaw injury, arthritis, and dislocation of the disc that cushions the joint.

Traditional TMJ Treatments

Traditional TMJ treatments typically focus on reducing inflammation and relieving pain. Some of the most commonly recommended treatments include resting the jaw, applying heat or ice, taking over-the-counter pain medications, and doing gentle jaw stretching exercises. Advanced treatments might include physical therapy, massage therapy, and in some cases, surgery.

Integrative Care Approach

As more research is being done on this complex disorder, a new model of integrative care is showing promising results. Instead of just focusing on traditional treatments, this new model of care integrates dental and medical treatments to address the underlying causes of TMJ. The ultimate goal of this approach is to restore proper function of the TMJ and improve overall quality of life.

Dental Treatments

The dental portion of the integrative care model for TMJ involves a range of treatments designed to improve function and decrease pain. Depending on the patient’s symptoms and underlying causes, some of the most common dental treatments might include occlusal splints, braces or orthodontic treatments, dental rehabilitation, and myofascial trigger point therapy. These treatments are designed to restore the proper function of the temporomandibular joint and reduce pain and discomfort.

Medical Treatments

The medical portion of the integrative care model for TMJ focuses on reducing inflammation and improving overall health. This might involve taking anti-inflammatory medications, doing physical therapy exercises, or undergoing treatments like ultrasound therapy or TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation). Some patients might also benefit from other types of medical treatments, such as trigger point injections, botox injections, or surgery.

Lifestyle Modifications

In addition to dental and medical treatments, integrating care for TMJ also involves making some lifestyle changes. Some of the most commonly recommended changes include eating a soft diet, practicing good posture, engaging in relaxation techniques like yoga or meditation, and avoiding excessive jaw use, like chewing gum. Making these changes can help to reduce strain on the TMJ and decrease pain and discomfort.


Integrative care for TMJ is a promising new treatment model that involves treating the underlying causes of the condition from both a dental and medical perspective. This model of care also involves making lifestyle changes to help reduce pain and improve overall function. For those who are struggling with the symptoms of TMJ, this new model of care could offer an effective and holistic approach to treatment.