When people say “I have TMJ” they usually mean that they are suffering from a disorder of the TMJ system. Your temporomandibular joints, also known as your TMJ, are a system made up of your muscles, ligaments and jaw bone. They make it possible to open and close your mouth and work in tandem when you chew, speak or swallow. The TMJ operates the lower jaw- your mandible- as it moves forward, backward and side to side.
Each TMJ has a disc of squishy cartilage between the ball and socket of the joint. The sponge-y material supports the load of your jaw while also enabling it to open wide and rotate or glide. Any problem that hinders this system of muscles, ligaments, discs and bones from working together properly is called a TMJ disorder.
Dentist like Dr. Donna Vagnozzi-Bucci of Family & Spa Dentistry in Pennington, NJ can diagnose and treat this problem to alleviate the discomfort from and stop the progression of dental issues that TMJ disorders can trigger.
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 diagnosis a TMD before treatment can begin. 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, Dr. Donna Vagnozzi-Bucci may refer you to a physician or a dental specialist for more advanced treatment.
How is TMJ Treated?
For minor cases, there are several methods of treatments for TMJ disorders. Below are simple home remedies you can use before moving on to more advanced treatment with a doctor or dentist. These steps follow a “less is more” approach in treating TMJ disorders:
- 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. Vagnozzi-Bucci:
- Exercises to strengthen your jaw muscles
- Medications prescribed by your dentist; such as muscle relaxers, analgesics, anti-inflammatory medications
- Anxiety medications
- A mouth guard or bite plate to protect against clenching or grinding of teeth.
In some cases, your dentist may recommend correcting an uneven bite by adjusting or reshaping some teeth. Orthodontic treatments such as traditional or invisible braces may even be suggested if necessary. Dr. Vagnozzi-Bucci can recommend the most appropriate therapy based on the determined cause.
If you are in the Pennington, NJ area and think you may be suffering from TMJ disorder, any other dental ailment or just need a cleaning or consultation, please call (609) 303-3058 to schedule with Dr. Vagnozzi-Bucci at Family & Spa Dentistry or schedule with our office online.