When someone says “I have TMJ” they mostly mean that they are suffering from a TMJ disorder, or TMD. Your temporomandibular joints, called the TMJ for short, are what make opening and closing your mouth possible to open and close your mouth. Located on either side of your skull, the TMJ work together when you chew, speak or swallow and include the jaw bone and its muscles and ligaments. They also control the lower jaw- called your mandible- as it moves forward, backward and side to side.
Each side of the TMJ has a sponge-y disc between the ball and socket of the joint which supports the load while enabling the jaw to open wide and rotate or glide. Any problem that disrupts this complicated system of muscles, ligaments, discs and bones and prevents it from working properly can be called a TMJ disorder. Dentist like Dr. Jason Baldwin in Truckee, CA can diagnose and treat this problem to relieve the discomfort of stop the advance of dental issues that TMJ disorders can cause.
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?
A dentist must diagnose a TMD before treatment can begin. Dr. Baldwin will check your joints and muscles of your jaw for tenderness, clicking, popping or difficulty of motion. Depending on the severity of the diagnosis, Dr. Baldwin may refer you to a physician or a dental surgeon for more advanced treatment.
How is a TMD Treated?
For basic cases, there are many non-invasive ways to address a TMD. This remedies advocate a “less is more” approach before you move on to more serious treatment. Some suggestions 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, including meditation or biofeedback.
If your symptoms are more severe, the following treatments may be recommended by Dr. Baldwin:
- Exercises to strengthen your jaw muscles
- Medications prescribed by your dentist; such as muscle relaxants, analgesics, anti-inflammatories or anti-anxiety medications
- A mouth guard or bite plate to reduce clenching or grinding of teeth.
In some cases, your dentist may diagnose you with an uneven bite that must be treated by adjusting or reshaping some teeth. Orthodontic treatment may even be recommended if necessary. Dr. Baldwin can suggest the most appropriate therapy based on the determined cause.
If you are in the Truckee, CA area and think you may be suffering from TMJ disorder, any other dental ailment or just need a cleaning or consultation, please call (530) 206-0392 to schedule with Dr. Baldwin or schedule with our office online.