What is TMJ?

When people say “I have TMJ” they mostly mean that they are suffering from a TMJ disorder. Your temporomandibular joints, called TMJ, make it possible to open and close your mouth. Your TMJ, located on either side of your skull, work together when you chew, speak or swallow and include muscles and ligaments as well as the jaw bone. They also control the lower jaw- called your mandible- as it moves forward, backward and side to side.
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. Dentist like Dr. J. Stephen Hoard in New Bern NC can diagnose and treat this problem to alleviate the discomfort of stop the progression of dental issues that TMJ disorders can bring on.
Possible causes of TMJ disorders include:

  • Arthritis
  • Dislocation
  • Injury
  • Alignment of jaw and teeth
  • Teeth grinding due to stress

A dentist must diagnosis the issue before treatment can begin. A typical 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. Hoard may refer you to a physician or a dental specialist for more advanced treatment.

How to Treat TMJ

For basic cases, there are several methods of treatments for TMJ disorders. This step-by-step plan allows you to try simple remedies at home before moving on to more involved treatment. These steps advocate for a “less is more” approach in treating TMJ disorders, which 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. Hoard:

  • 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.

TMJ Treatment in New Bern NC

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. Hoard can suggest the most appropriate therapy based on the determined cause.  If you are in the New Bern NC area and think you may be suffering from TMJ disorder, any other dental ailment or just need a cleaning or consultation, please call 252.507.0373 to schedule with Dr. Hoard or schedule with our office online.