How Your Dentist Diagnoses and Treats TMJ

You might have heard someone say “I have TMJ.” What these people most likely mean is that they are suffering from a TMJ disorder. Your temporomandibular joints — called the TMJ — 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 control the lower jaw- called your mandible- as it moves forward, backward and side to side.

Each TMJ has a disc of sponge-y cartilage between the ball and socket of the joint. The disc supports the load while allowing the jaw to open wide and rotate or glide. Any disturbance of the proper working of this complicated system of muscles, ligaments, discs and bones can be called a TMJ disorder.

Dentists like Dr. Natasha Radosavljevic — Dr. Rados, for short — in Clearwater, FL 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 TMJ Diagnosed?

A dentist must diagnosis the condition before treatment can begin. A standard 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 diagnosis, Dr. Rados may refer you to a physician or a dental specialist for more advanced treatment.

How is TMJ Treated?

For basic cases, there are a few different methods of treatments. This step-by-step plan advocates attempting simple remedies at home 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. Rados:

  • 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 suggest correcting an uneven bite by adjusting your bite with orthodontic treatment or even surgery.  Dr. Rados can suggest the most appropriate therapy based on the determined cause. If you are in the Clearwater, FL area and think you may be suffering from TMJ disorder, any other dental ailment or just need a cleaning or consultation, please call 727.360.4302 to schedule with Dr. Rados or schedule with our office online.