What is TMJ?

When people say “I have TMJ” they are usually saying that they are suffering from a TMJ disorder. Your temporomandibular joints, called TMJ, are the part of your skeleton that 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 the muscles and ligaments as well as the jaw bone. They also control your lower jaw- also known as the mandible- as it moves forward, backward and side to side.

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Each TMJ has a disc of cartilage between the ball and socket of the joint. This disc supports the load while allowing the jaw the flexibility to open wide and rotate or glide. Any problem that prevents this complex system of muscles, ligaments, discs and bones from working together properly can be called a TMJ disorder. Dentists like Dr. Tom Trinkner in Columbia SC can diagnose and treat these problems to alleviate the discomfort and progression of dental issues that TMJ disorders cause.

What Causes TMJ Disorders?

Possible causes of TMJ disorders include:

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

How is TMJ Treated?

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

For common cases, there are several methods of treatments for TMJ disorders. This step-by-step plan allows you to try simple remedies on your own at home before moving on to more involved treatment. These steps allow 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 using meditation or biofeedback.

If your symptoms are more severe, the following treatments may be recommended by Dr. Trinkner:

  • Jaw muscle strengthening exercises
  • Medications prescribed by your dentist; such as muscle relaxants, analgesics, anti-anxiety drugs or anti-inflammatory medications
  • Use of mouth guard or bite plate to reduce clenching or grinding of teeth.

TMJ Disorder Treatment in Columbia, SC

In some cases, your dentist may suggest correcting an uneven bite by adjusting or reshaping

some teeth. Orthodontic treatment may even be recommended if necessary. Dr. Trinkner can prescribe the most appropriate therapy based on the determined cause.  If you are in the Columbia SC area and think you may be suffering from TMJ disorder, any other dental ailment or just need a cleaning or consultation, please call 803.400.8729 to schedule with Dr. Trinkner or schedule with our office online.