What to Know About TMJ

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You may at some point have heard someone say,  “I have TMJ.” The truth is that everyone has TMJ – temporomandibular joints. What these people really mean is that they have a disorder of the TMJ system. Your TMJ include the muscles and ligaments that make it possible to open and close your mouth and control your mandible — your lower jaw — allowing you to move it forward, backward and side to side. Your TMJ work together on either side of your skull whenever you chew, speak or swallow.

The TMJ holds a disc of cartilage between the ball and socket of the joint. This sponge-y substance supports the load so that the jaw can open wider, rotate or glide. Any medical issue that hampers the functioning of this complicated system of muscles, ligaments, discs and bones  can be called a TMJ disorder, or TMD. 

Dentist such as the skilled professionals of Smile Dental Group in West Lancaster, CA can diagnose and treat this problem, usually with non-invasive treatment, to alleviate the discomfort and stop the progression of dental issues that TMJ disorders can bring on.

What Causes TMJ Disorders?

Possible causes of TMJ disorders include:

  • Arthritis
  • Dislocation
  • Injury
  • Alignment of jaw and teeth
  • Teeth grinding due to stress

How is a TMD Diagnosed?

A dentist must first diagnosis the issue before treatment can begin, and can usually do so with a standard dental examination, checking the joints and muscles of the jaw for tenderness, clicking, popping or difficulty of motion. Depending on how severe your TMD is, your Smile Dental Group dentist may refer you to a physician or a dental specialist for more advanced treatment or surgery.

How is TMJ Treated?

For routine cases, there are several recommendations for treating TMJ disorders. These are simple remedies, part of a “less is more” approach to resolving TMD, that you can try at home before moving on to more involved treatment. These steps include: 

  • 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, such as meditation or biofeedback.

If your symptoms are more severe, the following treatments may be recommended by your Smile Dental Group dentist:

  • Exercises to strengthen your jaw muscles.
  • Prescription medications for pain.
  • 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 recommend orthodontic treatment or even reconstructive surgery, if necessary. Your Smile Dental Group dentist can suggest the most appropriate treatment based on the determined cause.  If you are in the West Lancaster, CA area and think you may be suffering from TMJ disorder, any other dental ailment or even if you just need a cleaning or a routine exam, please call (661) 729-2990 to schedule with one of our skilled and professional dentists at Smile Dental Group or schedule with our office online.