Thank you for your inquiry. There are many ways to treat TMJ problems. I am not sure what type of problem you are experiencing so I will generalize. Obviously, if you have had problems for this long, I will have to assume (without seeing you) that this is a degenerative problem as opposed to purely muscle problem. If you have any joint noises, this means there is some internal problem as well.
If this is the case, then the objective is to find the correct place in "space" where your teeth should meet so that your jaw, joints, muscles, and nerves can function together in harmony. We use sophisticated computers to assist us in seeing what is going on. This is one form of neuromuscular dentistry. When we find this positiion, we often fabricate a fixed orthotic or appliance that allows you to chew, eat, and function 24/7 in the correct position. This orthotic looks and feels like your teeth. The reason this is done is two fold:
1) It allows your joints, muscles, ligaments, and nerves to heal
2) It is reversible and we can adjust on the appliance as healing occurs.
This is not an arbitrary big plastic appliance that is simply placed between the teeth.
When you are asymptomatic, or say 75% better we can re-assess what needs to be done to keep you stabile long term. I hope this makes sense as it is hard to write on email. Please feel free to call our office to answer any questions or to make an appointment to discuss your situation on a personal basis.
The good news is that almost all the TMJ cases we see are treatable non-surgically.
Ron Konig DDS, FAGD, LVIF