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Dental Health and Food: Learning to Eat Better

My intense love for candy, cakes, and everything in between started as a child. I simply couldn't go one day without something sweet to eat. But my love for all things sweet took a toll on my teeth. My dentist diagnosed me with seven cavities, each one a different size and depth. After sitting through four long dental appointments, I decided to make a change. I now monitor my diet and only eat things that benefit my oral health. I'm here to help you take better care of your teeth. My blog offers tips on how to improve your diet, maintain good oral hygiene, and many other topics. Hopefully, you can learn to overcome your bad habits just as I did. Good luck with your future dental health.


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Dental Health and Food: Learning to Eat Better

Treatment For TMJ Disorders: What You Need To Know

by Eric Bailey

Experts believe that temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ) affect more than 10 million people in the United States. This group of conditions causes painful symptoms in the jaw joint and surrounding muscles. Some people only suffer mild symptoms of a TMJ disorder, but these conditions can also lead to more serious long-term problems. If you have TMJ, learn more about the treatment options you may need to consider, and find out what you should do to manage the condition.

Types of TMJ disorder

According to the National Institute of Dental and Cranofacial Research, TMJ disorders fall into three categories. These are:

  • Problems with the muscles that control the jaw, leading to facial pain and discomfort
  • A disturbance in the joint, such as a displaced disc or dislocated jaw
  • Degenerative and inflammatory disorders like arthritis

Some people have more than one of these disorders at the same time. It's also common to have a TMJ disorder with other conditions, including fibromyalgia (which affects muscles and soft tissues throughout the body).


The symptoms of TMJ disorders will often subside and then return over time. Most commonly, people with these problems experience pain in the chewing muscles or jaw joint. The pain may spread across the face, or to the neck.

You may also have a stiff jaw muscle, or limited movement in your mouth. Some people also get a painful click or pop in the jaw joint when they open or close their mouth. You may also find that your top and bottom teeth don't fit together properly.

It's often difficult for a dentist or doctor to diagnose TMJ disorders because experts don't yet understand what causes the problem. As such, health care professionals will normally review your medical history and carry out a physical examination. A dentist may refer you to a prosthodontist, who will have more experience in the field.

Basic treatment options

A dentist or prosthodontist will normally recommend simple treatment methods when you first note the symptoms of the disorder. These actions can help relieve the pain, and the disorder may disappear relatively quickly. Things you may need to consider include:

  • Changing your diet to eat softer food
  • Avoiding extreme jaw movements (like yawning)
  • Using relaxation techniques
  • Adopting gentle stretching and relaxing exercises to improve jaw movement
  • Taking over-the-counter pain medicines

Doctors and dentists also commonly recommend that people with TMJ disorders use a stabilization splint (or bite guard). These plastic devices fit over the upper and lower teeth, and allow the muscles and ligaments to relax. You should only use a stabilization splint temporarily, as it's important not to do anything that could permanently change your bite.

Occlusal equilibration

In some cases, people with TMJ disorders have problems with their teeth and often cannot close their jaw properly. Occlusal equilibration is a way that your prosthodontist may deal with this. He or she will selectively reshape the surfaces of your teeth, so your lower jaw can close properly. This treatment can quickly ease the symptoms of a TMJ disorder.

Surgical treatment

Dentists and doctors don't often recommend surgery to treat TMJ disorders, but this type of treatment may help people with severe symptoms. Surgical options include:

  • Arthrocentesis. The surgeon cleans the joint with sterile fluid, and he or she may also remove problem tissue and reposition parts of the jaw.
  • Arthroscopy. The surgeon makes a cut in front of the ear, and then removes adhesions and treats inflammation around the jaw.
  • Open-joint surgery. This procedure allows the surgeon to remove or re-shape affected bone.

It's important to discuss surgical options with a specialist. Even if other, more conservative treatment methods haven't worked, surgery isn't always the right answer. Your dentist or prosthodontist will help you better understand your options.

TMJ disorders cause pain for many people in the United States, but, with the right advice, it's often relatively easy to treat the symptoms. For more info, contact a local dentist or prosthodontist.