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Located on each side of the head, your TMJ works together when you chew, speak or swallow and include muscles and ligaments as well as the jaw bone. They also control the lower jaw (mandible) as it moves forward, backward, and side to side.

Each TMJ has a disc between the ball and socket. The disc cushions the load while enabling the jaw to open widely and rotate or glide. Any problem that prevents this complex system of muscles, ligaments, discs, and bones from working properly may result in a painful TMJ disorder.

Diagnosis is an important step before treatment. Part of the dental examination includes checking the joints and muscles for tenderness, clicking, popping, or difficulty moving.

Possible causes of TMJ disorders include:

• arthritis

• dislocation

• injury

• tooth and jaw alignment

• stress and teeth grinding

There are several treatments for TMJ disorders. The NIDCR also recommends a “less is often best” approach in treating TMJ disorders, which includes:

• eating softer foods

• avoiding chewing gum and biting your nails

• modifying the pain with heat packs

• practicing relaxation techniques to control jaw tension, such as meditation or biofeedback.

If necessary for your symptoms, the following treatments may be advised:

• exercises to strengthen your jaw muscles

• medications prescribed by your dentist; for example, muscle relaxants, analgesics, anti-anxiety drugs, or anti-inflammatory medications

• a night guard or bite plate to decrease clenching or grinding of teeth.

In some cases, we may recommend fixing an uneven bite by adjusting or reshaping some teeth. Orthodontic treatment may also be recommended. The suggestion of the most appropriate therapy will be based on the suspected cause.

If you have any questions, please call us at 212-274 8338 or Book Online for an appointment at Empower Your Smile.

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