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What is TMJ and How is it Treated?

tmj therapy annapolis marylandWhen people say “I have TMJ” they most often mean to say that they are suffering from a TMJ disorder. Your temporomandibular joints, called TMJ, are the parts of your skull that make it possible to open and close your mouth. They are situated on either side of your skull and work together when you chew, speak or swallow. The TMJ includes muscles and ligaments as well as the jaw bone and also controls the lower jaw- called your mandible- as it moves forward, backward and side to side.

Each TMJ contains a disc of cartilage between the ball and socket of the joint. This spongy disc supports the load while enabling the jaw to open wide and rotate or glide. Any issue that prevents this complicated system of muscles, ligaments, discs and bones from working properly can be referred to as a TMJ disorder. Dentists like the skilled professionals at Lee, Bonfiglio, Vesely & Associates in Annapolis, MD can diagnose and treat TMJ disorders to alleviate the pain and halt the progression of dental issues that TMJ disorders can bring on.

What Causes TMJ Disorders (TMD)?

Possible causes of TMJ disorders include:

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

How is TMJ Diagnosed?

A dentist must diagnose the condition before treatment can begin. An examination for TMJ includes checking the joints and muscles of the jaw for tenderness, clicking, popping or difficulty of motion.  The prevalence of these issues can indicate the presence of a TMD.

Depending on the severity of the diagnosis, your LBV dentist may refer you to a physician or a dental specialist for more advanced treatment.

How is TMJ Treated?

For basic cases, there are several methods of treatments for TMJ disorders. The tips below allow you to try to alleviate the condition with simple remedies at home before moving on to more involved treatment. These steps, which advocate for a “less is more” approach in treating TMJ disorders, 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 Your LBV dentist:

  • 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 recommend correct an uneven bite by adjusting or reshaping some teeth. Orthodontic treatment may even be recommended if necessary. Your LBV dentist can suggest the most appropriate therapy based on the determined cause.  If you are in the Annapolis, MD area and think you may be suffering from TMJ disorder, any other dental ailment please call (410) 989-8298 to schedule a virtual consultation online with a dentist at Lee, Bonfiglio, Vesely & Associates.


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