The jaw joints play a crucial role in maintaining optimal dental health. When they are not working properly, more serious issues can arise and have a negative impact on your oral and overall wellbeing. At Walnut Pond Dental in Annandale, NJ, Drs. Victoria Uryniak and Carson Ferris-Zeolla provide TMJ (temporomandibular joint) treatments to alleviate problematic symptoms. With years of expertise and experience, our doctors take pride in providing high-quality dental care in a friendly and compassionate environment.
About Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMD)
TMD occurs when any element of the complex system of ligaments, bones, muscles, and discs is not working as it should. Currently, experts do not fully understand exactly what causes TMD. However, there are certain risk factors that can lead to its development:
- Bruxism (teeth grinding)
- Erosion or movement of the disc that cushions the joint
- Arthritis in the jaw joint
- Excessive stress
- Injury to the jaw
Symptoms of TMD
TMD can occur in people of all ages. However, it is most common in women between the ages of 20 and 40. Symptoms can be acute or chronic, affecting one or both sides of the face. Patients who suffer from TMD commonly experience:
- Pain in the jaw, face, neck, or shoulders
- Difficulty opening and closing
- Jaws that become “locked” or “stuck”
- Clicking or popping of the jaw
- Discomfort while chewing
- Facial swelling
- Facial fatigue
In order to identify the source of the issue, your doctor will perform a full oral assessment, paying close attention to the jaw joints and facial muscles. Special scans may be taken of your maxillofacial structures to evaluate the bone and jaw position. Your family and medical history will also be discussed at great length to determine any hereditary factors.
Treatments for TMD
If a TMD diagnosis is confirmed, your doctor will work with you to develop a treatment plan to address your specific situation. One of the most common treatments for TMD is a custom night guard. These appliances strategically place the teeth in a more proper position and prevent the upper and lower teeth from touching. Occasionally, a dental splint may be recommended. A splint is similar to a night guard, but is also worn during the day. Our team can help you determine which option is right for you.
In some severe cases, restorative work may be necessary to bring balance to your bite. This may include crowns, bridges, orthodontics, or it may involve replacing missing teeth. By balancing your bite, we can improve the function of your teeth and reduce stress and tension placed on the joints.
There are also some things you can do at home to alleviate the discomfort associated with TMD. Some recommendations include:
- NSAIDs: Anti-inflammatory medications, such as ibuprofen or naproxen, can help reduce swelling and alleviate discomfort.
- Moist Heat: Apply a warm washcloth to the area for 10 minutes. Repeat this routine a few times every day.
- Soft Diet: Soft and nutritious foods are the most ideal for people suffering a TMD flare-up. This includes foods like yogurt, soup, scrambled eggs, fish, cooked vegetables, and cottage cheese.
- Avoid Excessive Jaw Movement: Chewing on ice or gum can exacerbate TMJ issues. It is a good idea to keep these activities to a minimum.
- Stress-Relieving Exercises: Therapeutic activities such as massage and meditation can help loosen your jaw and reduce tenderness.
- Keep Your Teeth Apart: Your teeth should not touch unless you are eating, speaking, or swallowing. Making a conscious effort to keep your teeth slightly apart will help reduce tension and discomfort.
Contact Our Office to Learn More
If you are experiencing symptoms of TMD, schedule a consultation with one of our doctors. You can contact us online anytime, or call our office at (908) 200-7007.