When someone says they have TMJ, they usually mean they are suffering from a TMJ disorder. The temporomandibular joints, referred to as TMJ, are how you are able to open and close your mouth. Your TMJ are located on either side of the skull and work together to help you chew, speak, and swallow. Dr. Jacob McLauchlin is a dentist in Nixa, MO who helps patients dealing with TMJ disorders find relief for their symptoms.
Each TMJ has a disc between the ball and socket of the joint. The disc supports the load while enabling the jaw 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.
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 needs to perform a physical exam to diagnose TMJ. Your dentist will check the joints and muscles in the jaw for tenderness, popping, clicking, or difficulty moving the jaw. Depending on the severity of the diagnosis, Dr. McLauchlin may refer you to a physician or dental specialist for further treatment.
How is TMJ Treated?
There are several ways to treat TMJ disorders, depending on the severity of each case. You can try simple remedies at home before moving on to more involved treatment, such as:
- Avoiding chewing gum and biting your nails
- Eating softer foods
- Applying heat packs to the jaw to relieve the pain
- Practicing relaxation techniques to reduce tension in the jaw
If you have more severe TMJ disorder symptoms, Dr. McLauchlin may recommend the following:
- Muscle relaxants, analgesics, anti-anxiety drugs or anti-inflammatory medications
- Exercises to strengthen your jaw muscles
- A mouth guard or bite plate to reduce clenching or teeth grinding
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. Dr. McLauchlin can suggest the most appropriate therapy based on the determined cause. If you are in the Nixa, MO area and think you may be suffering from TMJ disorder, any other dental ailment or just need a cleaning or consultation, please call 888.488.3049 to schedule with Dr. McLauchlin at MAC Dental or schedule with our office online.