How to Treat TMJ

How to Treat TMJ

Dentist in Vancouver WA

What is and how do you treat TMJ?

TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint. It is the flexible joint that connects the jaw to the temporal bones of the skull (in front of each ear). Due to this, we are able to move our jaws up, down, side to side, talk, eat, and so on.

Having problems with the TMJ is called temporomandibular disorders (TMD). There are a number of way the dentist can treat TMJ.

Most of the time, people suffer from TMD in the morning. According to studies, the amount of force that we put on our jaws and teeth at night when we clench or grind is 8 to 10 times more than we ever do during the day. On top of that, the amount of time that our teeth are in contact at night is much greater than during the day (including the time that we are chewing). Because of this, the teeth may bear the brunt of that. This would cause the teeth to grind down. Using a protective guard to wear at nighttime would greatly help to protect your teeth from this. The other problem is that this also affects the jaw and the muscles.

Clenching and grinding may be what causes headaches in the morning, muscle pain, clicking, and so on. There are a number of ways to correct the TMD. There are home remedies like the following:

  • Over the counter medications: NSAIDs can relieve the muscle pain and swelling.
  • Using moist heat or cold packs: Applying an ice pack to the side of your face and temple area for 10 minutes, then applying a warm towel for about 5 minutes. Repeat for a few times each day, this should help relieve some pain.
  • Eating soft foods or cutting foods into small pieces to avoid chewing and using too much force.
  • Avoid opening wide
  • No resting your chin on your hand
  • Keep your teeth slightly apart

Dental treatments would be for your dentist to prescribe other medications that are stronger than the NSAIDs you can get over-the-counter. You can also use a splint which is used all the time, or a night guard. It also may be necessary to do orthodontics or orthopedics to expand the jaws and move the teeth into position. This would allow the jaw to go in a forward position which may even eliminate the clicking sound. Your dentist can even replace missing teeth and use crowns or bridges in order to balance the biting surfaces of your teeth or to correct a bite problem.

There are many other solutions to treating TMJ. To learn more, please call us at 360-253-2640.