You have probably heard someone say “I have TMJ” at some point. Usually, what these people mean is that they are suffering from a TMJ disorder or TMD. Your temporomandibular joints, also known as your TMJ, are the system that make it possible to open and close your mouth. This system include the muscles, ligament and jaw bone involved, and is located on either side of your skull. The TMJ operate the lower jaw- your mandible- as it moves forward, backward and side to side.
A disc of sponge-y cartilage is part of the TMJ and is located between the ball and socket of the joint. This disc supports the load of your jaw while also allowing it to open wide and rotate or glide. Any disruption of the working of this complicated system of muscles, ligaments, discs and bones can be termed a TMJ disorder.
Dentists like Dr. Richard Van Gurp in Charlotte, 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 examine the patient and diagnose a TMD before treatment can begin. A typical dental examination includes checking the joints and muscles of the jaw for tenderness, clicking, popping or difficulty of motion. Depending on the severity of the TMD, Dr. Van Gurp or your area dentist may refer you to a physician or a dental specialist for more advanced treatment.
How is it Treated?
For basic cases, there are a few different at-home remedies. These plans involve attempting to use these simple remedies before moving on to more involved treatment. 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. Van Gurp:
- Exercises to strengthen your jaw muscles
- Medications prescribed by your dentist; such as muscle relaxants, analgesics, anti-inflammatories
- Anxiety medications
- A mouth guard or bite plate to reduce clenching or grinding of teeth.
In some cases, your dentist may suggest correcting an uneven bite by adjusting or reshaping some teeth. Orthodontic treatment may be necessary if the problem is severe enough. Dr. Van Gurp or your area dentist can suggest the most appropriate therapy based on the determined cause.
If you are in the Charlotte, NC area and think you may be suffering from TMJ disorder, any other dental ailment or just need a cleaning or consultation, please call (704) 209-9606 to schedule with Dr. Van Gurp or schedule with our office online.