How Dentists Diagnose and Treat TMJ

You may have at some time heard someone say “I have TMJ.” When people say this, they usually mean that they are suffering from a TMJ disorder. Your temporomandibular joints — abbreviated TMJ — make it possible to open and close your mouth. Your TMJ are located on either side of your skull and work in tandem to help you chew, speak or swallow. The muscles and ligaments involved in this process are all considered part of your TMJ. The TMJ also control the lower jaw — your mandible — as it moves forward, backward and side to side.

Each TMJ has a disc of sponge-y cartilage between the ball and socket of the joint that supports the load while enabling the jaw to open wide and rotate or glide. Any issue that hinders this complicated system of muscles, ligaments, discs and bones from working together properly can be considered a TMJ disorder. Dentist like Dr. Nish Patel of Manatee Advanced Dentistry in Bradenton, FL can diagnose and treat this problem to alleviate your discomfort and stop the progression of dental problems that TMJ disorders can bring on.

What Causes TMJ Disorders (TMD)?

Possible causes of TMJ disorders include:

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

How is TMJ Diagnosed?

A dentist must first diagnosis the TMJ disorder before treatment can begin. A standard dental examination should include checking the joints and muscles of the jaw for tenderness, clicking, popping or difficulty of motion.

Depending on the severity of the diagnosis, Dr. Patel may refer you to a physician or a dental specialist for more advanced treatment.

How is TMJ Treated?

For basic cases, there are several simple home remedies to try before moving on to advanced ones such as dental appliances or surgery. These steps adopt a “less is more” philosophy for treating TMJ disorders, that includes:

  • Eating softer foods
  • Avoiding chewing gum and/or biting your nails
  • Applying heat packs to painful or sore spots
  • 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. Patel:

  • Jaw-strengthening exercises
  • Medications prescribed by your dentist; such as muscle relaxants, analgesics, anti-inflammatory medications
  • Anxiety drugs to treat stress that may be causing clenching or grinding of teeth
  • A mouth guard or bite plate to reduce clenching or grinding of teeth.

Treating TMJ Disorders in Bradenton, FL

In some cases, your dentist may need to correct an uneven bite by adjusting the placement of or reshaping some of your teeth. Orthodontic treatment may be suggested if necessary. Dr. Patel can suggest the most appropriate therapy based on the determined cause.  If you are in the Bradenton, FL area and think you may be suffering from TMJ disorder, any other dental ailment or just need a cleaning or consultation, please call 941.209.4315 to schedule with Dr. Patel at Manatee Advanced Dentistry or schedule with our office online.


507 50th Street
W Bradenton, FL 34209

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Friday 8am - 2pm
Saturday & Sunday closed.