“I have TMJ.” You may have heard someone say this at some point. What they most likely mean is that they are having pain from a disorder of the TMJ system — the temporomandibular joints. The TMJ is located on either side of your skull and work in tandem for you to open and close your mouth, chew, speak or swallow.
Your TMJ also includes all the different muscles and ligaments in your face that are at work in these processes as well as the jaw bone itself. The TMJ control the lower jaw — your mandible — as it moves forward, backward and side to side, which is necessary for chewing and talking.
Any problem that prevents this complicated system of muscles, ligaments, discs and bones from working properly can be considered a TMJ disorder. Dentist like Drs. Monroe & Monroe in Pinehurst, NC can diagnose and treat this problem to alleviate the discomfort of 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 diagnosis a TMJ disorder before treatment can begin. A typical dental examination should include inspecting the joints and muscles of the jaw for tenderness, clicking, popping or difficulty of motion.
Depending on the severity of the diagnosis, Drs. Monroe & Monroe may refer you to a physician or a dental specialist for more advanced treatment.
How is TMJ Treated?
For routine cases, there are several lifestyle changes recommended for alleviating the pain from TMJ disorders. The steps below are simple “home remedies” to try out before moving on to medical treatment. This “less is more” approach for the treatment of TMD pain includes:
- Eating softer foods
- Avoiding chewing gum and biting your nails
- Applying heat packs to the sore areas
- Practicing relaxation techniques to relieve tension in the jaw, including meditation or biofeedback.
If your symptoms are more severe, the following treatments may be recommended by Drs. Monroe & Monroe:
- Exercises to strengthen your jaw muscles
- Medications prescribed by your dentist; such as anxiety medication, muscle relaxants, analgesics, anti-inflammatory medications
- A mouth guard or bite plate to reduce clenching or grinding of teeth.
In some cases, your dentist may recommend correcting an uneven bite by adjusting or reshaping some teeth with cosmetic dentistry procedures. Orthodontic treatment may even be necessary to change your bite. Drs. Monroe & Monroe can suggest the most appropriate therapy based on the determined cause.
If you are in the Pinehurst, NC area and think you may be suffering from TMJ disorder, any other dental ailment or just need a cleaning or consultation, please call 910.420.3670 to schedule with Drs. Monroe & Monroe in Pinehurst, NC or schedule with our office online.