When people say “I have TMJ” they usually mean that they are suffering from a TMJ disorder, or TMD. Your temporomandibular joints, called TMJ, are the system that make it possible to open and close your mouth. Located on either side of your skull, TMJ work in tandem when you chew, speak or swallow. The TMJ also include the muscles and ligaments involved as well as the jaw bone. They also control your mandible — your lower jaw — as it moves forward, backward and side to side.
Each TMJ has a disc between the ball and socket of the joint made of sponge-y cartilage. The disc supports the load while allowing the jaw to open wide and rotate or glide. Any disruption of this complicated system of muscles, ligaments, discs and bones from working properly can be called a TMJ disorder.
Dentists like Dr. Nicholas F. Gardner in Gouverneur, NY can diagnose and treat this problem to alleviate the discomfort and stop the progression of dental issues that TMJ disorders can bring on.
What Causes TMJ Disorders (TMD)?
Possible causes of TMJ disorders include:
- Alignment of jaw and teeth
- Teeth grinding due to stress
How is TMJ Diagnosed?
A dentist must diagnose this condition before treatment can begin. A typical dental examination includes checking the joints and muscles of the jaw for tenderness, clicking, popping or difficulty of motion. Dr. Gardner may refer you to a physician or a dental specialist for more advanced treatment if your TMD is severe enough.
How is TMJ Treated?
TMJ is often treated by small lifestyle changes first, following a “less is more” approach to the problem. The steps below suggest you try these simple remedies at home before moving on to more involved treatment such as surgery.
- Eating softer foods
- Avoiding chewing gum and biting your nails
- Applying heat packs to the pain
- Practicing relaxation techniques to alleviate tension in the jaw, including meditation or biofeedback.
If your symptoms are more severe, the following treatments may be recommended by Dr. Gardner:
- Exercises to strengthen your jaw muscles
- Medications prescribed by your dentist; such as muscle relaxants, analgesics, anti-inflammatories.
- Anxiety medications to reduce tension in the jaw.
- A mouth guard or bite plate to reduce clenching or grinding of teeth.
In some cases, your dentist may suggest correcting an uneven bite by adjusting or reshaping
some teeth. Orthodontic treatment may even be recommended if necessary. Dr. Gardner can recommend the most appropriate treatment based on the cause determined.
If you are in the Gouverneur, NY area and believe you may be suffering from TMJ disorder, any other dental ailment or just need a tooth cleaning or consultation, please call (315) 203-1772 to schedule with Dr. Gardner or schedule with our office online.