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What is TMJ?

Oral Health Fullerton, CA dentistWhen people say “I have TMJ” they most often mean to imply that they are suffering from a TMJ disorder. Your temporomandibular joints, called TMJ, are the part of your body that make it possible to open and close your mouth. Your TMJ, located on either side of your skull, work in tandem when you chew, speak or swallow and include muscles and ligaments as well as the jaw bone. The TMJ also controls the lower jaw (called the mandible) allowing it to move forward, backward and side to side.

Each TMJ has a disc of sponge-like cartilage between the ball and socket of the joint. This cushioning disc supports the load of your lower jaw while enabling it to open wide and rotate or glide. Any problem that prevents this complicated system of muscles, ligaments, discs and bones from working properly can be called a TMJ disorder or TMD. Dentists like Dr. Kush and Dr. Krutav Patel of Fullerton Craft Smiles Dental in Fullerton, CA can diagnose and treat this problem to alleviate the discomfort and stop 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 a TMD Diagnosed?

A dentist must diagnose the condition before treatment can begin. A thorough dental examination for a TMD should include checking the joints and muscles of the jaw for tenderness, clicking, popping or difficulty of motion.

Depending on the severity of the problem, Dr. Patel 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. This step-by-step plan below allows you to try simple remedies at home before moving on to more involved treatment with your dentist. These steps attempt a “less is more” approach 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 meditation or biofeedback.

If your symptoms are more severe, the following treatments may be recommended by Dr. Patel:

  • 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 correcting an uneven bite by adjusting or reshaping some of your teeth through various procedures. Orthodontic treatment may even be recommended if necessary. Dr. Patel can suggest the most appropriate therapy based on the determined cause.

TMJ Treatment in Fullerton, CA

If you are in the Fullerton, CA area and think you may be suffering from TMJ disorder, any other dental ailment or just need a cleaning or consultation, please call (714) 888-7008 to schedule with Dr. Patel at Fullerton Craft Smiles Dental or schedule with our office online.