When you hear someone say “I have TMJ” they most likely mean that they are suffering from a TMJ disorder, or TMD. Your temporomandibular joints, called the TMJ for short, make opening and closing your mouth possible. These joints, located on either side of your skull, work in tandem when you chew, speak or swallow. This system includes the jaw bone and the associated muscles and ligaments. They also control the lower jaw- called your mandible- as it moves forward, backward and side to side.
Each TMJ has a disc of sponge-y cartilage between the ball and socket of the joint that supports it, allowing the jaw to open wide and rotate or glide. Any disruption of the proper working of this complicated system of muscles, ligaments, discs and bones can be referred to as a TMJ disorder. Dentists like Dr. John C. Cranham in Chesapeake, VA can diagnose and treat this problem to relieve your discomfort from 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 a TMD Diagnosed?
In order to be treated, dentist must diagnose a TMD. Dr. Cranham or your area dentist will check your joints and muscles of your jaw for tenderness, clicking, popping or difficulty of motion. Depending on the severity of your TMD, Dr. Cranham may refer you to a physician or a dental surgeon for more advanced treatment.
How is TMD Treated?
For common cases, there are a few simple methods of treatment you can try on your own. This step-by-step plan advocates attempting simple remedies at home before moving on to more complex procedures. This “less is more” approach to treating TMJ disorders includes:
- 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. Cranham:
- Exercises to strengthen your jaw muscles
- Medications prescribed by your dentist; such as muscle relaxants, analgesics, anti-
- Anxiety drugs or anti-inflammatory medications
- A mouth guard or bite plate to reduce clenching or grinding of teeth.
In some cases, your dentist may suggest treating your uneven bite by adjusting or reshaping some teeth. Orthodontic therapies, such as braces, may even be recommended if necessary. Dr. Cranham can suggest the most appropriate treatment based on the determined cause.
TMJ Treatment in Chesapeake, VA
If you are in the Chesapeake, VA area and think you may be suffering from TMJ disorder, any other dental ailment or just need a cleaning or consultation, please call 757.656.4109 to schedule with Dr. Cranham or schedule with our office online.