When people say “I have TMJ” what they really mean is that they are suffering from a TMJ disorder. Your temporomandibular joints, called TMJ, are the part of your skeleton that make it possible to open and close your mouth so everyone “has TMJ” technically. Your TMJ, set on either side of your skull, work together when you chew, speak or swallow and include the muscles and ligaments involved as well as the jaw bone. They also control your lower jaw- also known as the mandible- as it moves forward, back and side to side.
Each TMJ has a cartilage disc cushioning the ball and socket of the joint. This disc supports the load while allowing the jaw the ability to open wide and rotate or glide. Any problem that hinders this complex system of muscles, ligaments, discs and bones and prevents them from working together properly can be called a TMJ disorder. Dentists like Dr. Paul Davis, Dr. Dakota Davis and Dr. Laura Drennan at Davis Family Dental Care in Bedford TX 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?
Possible causes of TMJ disorders include:
- Dislocation of the jaw
- Misalignment of jaw and teeth
- Grinding teeth due to stress
How is TMJ Treated?
Before treatment can begin your dentist must examine you and diagnosis the problem. A typical dental examination should include checking the joints and muscles of the jaw for tenderness, clicking, popping or difficulty of motion.
Depending on the severity of the diagnosis, your Davis Family dentist may refer you to a physician or a dental specialist for more advanced treatment.
For most cases, there are several common at-home treatments for TMJ disorders. This step-by-step plan allows you to try these simple remedies on your own before moving on to more involved treatment. These steps follow a “less is more” philosophy in treating TMJ disorders, which 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 using meditation or biofeedback.
If your symptoms are more severe, the following treatments may be recommended by your Davis Family dentist:
- Exercises to strengthen jaw muscles
- Medications prescribed by your dentist; such as muscle relaxants, analgesics, anti-anxiety drugs or anti-inflammatory medications
- Use of mouth guard or bite plate to reduce clenching or grinding of teeth.
TMJ Disorder Treatment in Bedford TX
In more severe cases, your dentist may recommend correcting an uneven bite by adjusting or reshaping some oddly-shaped or positioned teeth. Orthodontic treatment may even be an option if necessary. Your Davis Family Dental Care provider can prescribe the most appropriate therapy based on the determined cause. If you are in the Bedford TX area and think you may be suffering from TMJ disorder, any other dental ailment or just need a cleaning or consultation, please call 817.382.8869 to schedule with the Drs. Davis or Dr. Drennan or schedule with our office online.