You may have heard people say “I have TMJ.” What they really mean is that they are dealing with a TMJ disorder. Your temporomandibular joints –TMJ for short — are the part of your skeleton that make it possible to open and close your mouth so by that logic “has TMJ” technically. Your TMJ, set on either side of your skull, work cooperatively when you chew, speak or swallow and with your jaw bone and all attached the muscles and ligaments. The TMJ also control your mandible — your lower jaw — as it moves forward, back and side to side.
Each TMJ has a cartilage disc as a cushioning layer between the ball and socket of the joint. This disc supports the load while granting the jaw the flexibility to open wide and rotate or glide. Any problem that interferes with this complex system of muscles, ligaments, discs and bones and prevents them from working together properly is a TMJ disorder. Dentists like Dr. James Lassiter at Lassiter Family Dentistry in Kingsland GA can diagnose and treat TMJ disorders to alleviate the discomfort of stop the progression of dental issues that TMJ they can cause.
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?
A dentist must examine you and diagnosis the problem before treatment can begin. Most dental examinations include inspecting the joints and muscles of the jaw for tenderness, clicking, popping or difficulty of motion.
Depending on the severity of the diagnosis, Dr. Lassiter may refer you to a physician or a dental specialist for more advanced treatment.
In most cases, there are several common at-home treatments for TMJ disorders that can help. The following remedies are for you to try on your own before moving on to more involved treatment. These options follow a “less is more” philosophy for the treatment of TMJ disorders, which includes:
- Eating soft foods
- Avoiding chewing gum and biting your nails
- Applying heat packs to sore points.
- Practicing relaxation techniques to reduce tension in the jaw, including use of meditation or biofeedback.
If your symptoms are more severe, the following treatments may be recommended by Dr. Lassiter.
- Exercises to strengthen jaw muscles.
- Medications prescribed by your dentist; such as muscle relaxants, analgesics, anti-anxiety drugs or anti-inflammatory medications
- Use of a mouth guard or bite plate to restrict clenching or grinding of teeth.
TMJ Treatment in Kingsland, GA
In extreme cases, your dentist may recommend correcting an uneven bite by adjusting or reshaping some oddly-shaped or positioned teeth. Orthodontic treatment may also be an option if necessary. Dr. Lassiter can prescribe the most appropriate therapy based on the determined cause. If you are in the Kingsland GA area and believe you may be suffering from TMJ disorder, any other dental ailment or just need a cleaning or consultation, please call (912) 576-4011 to schedule with Dr. Lassiter or schedule with our office online.