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emportomandibular Joint Disorder

TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint Disorder) Relief Options

Temporomandibular Joint Syndrome

Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ) is also known as the TMJ joint. This connects the upper and lower jawlines. The joint is found at the base of the skull. This joint is different than the majority of joints in the body due to the unique structure. The composition of the joint is a protrusion of the mandible against a skull indentation and a structure of cartilage located between the articular discs or bones.

Ligaments from different areas of the neck and head hold the joint together. This guides the movements of the jaw while providing support. The lower jaw’s motion is assisted by the muscles connected to the ligaments. The joint opens the mouth in two different ways. The joint is similar to a hinge in the way the mouth is opened and closed.

The lower jaw moves upwards and downwards in a sliding motion. This is referred to as translation. Some of the most common actions include eating, singing and yawning.

Quick Tips: Are you feeling the effects of TMJ damage or believe your pain is related to TMJ? Contact our Brooklyn dental office today to schedule your appointment and meet with a dentist to see if it’s a TMJ related issue.

The Potential Causes of TMJ Damage

Temporomandibular joint disorder results when there is damage to the TMJ. When the joint is fractured, it can become sore and swell. This limits the movement of the lower jaw. Severe pain will radiate to the neck and head. Fracturing the articular disc or arthritis of the TMJ is rare. This condition is unable to be treated with just anti-inflammatory drugs. In some cases, sore muscles and ligaments can be relieved with ice.

The Signs and Symptoms of TMJ

There are numerous signs of temporomandibular joint disorder. It is difficult to be certain if the individual has this condition because the majority of the signs can also indicate other issues. A proper diagnosis can be made by a dentist through a complete dental and medical history. The appropriate x-rays must be taken and a clinical examination performed for a diagnosis. The most common signs include:

• Headaches, earaches and pressure in the back of the eyes
• Difficulty biting or chewing
• An out of place, locked or stuck jaw or tenderness in the muscle
• Severe aching in the ear, jaw or face
• Facial swelling
• A popping or clicking sound when the mouth is opened or closed
• A sudden change in the way the individuals lower and upper teeth fit together (a dental occlusion)

Diagnosing TMJ Symptoms and Causes

There are numerous different causes of temporomandibular joint disorder. The individual needs to visit either a medical or dental professional for an examination. This is when the jaw will be examined and potential causes discussed. In most instances an examination involves the following:

• Feeling and listening to the joint when the mouth is opened and closed
• Pressing on areas near the jaw to identify the cause of the discomfort or pain
• Observing the jaw’s range of motion

If an issue is suspected, the following may become necessary.

• An examination of the jaw and teeth through x-rays
• Revealing issues with the surrounding soft tissue or joint disc through an MRI
• Detailed images of all the bones required for the joint through a CT scan

According to the American Dental Association:

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. Depending on the diagnosis, the dentist may refer you to a physician or another dentist.

A temporomandibular joint disorder can sometimes be diagnosed with an arthroscopy. A small, thin tube called a cannula is inserted by a doctor into the joint space. An arthroscope or small camera can then be inserted so the area can be viewed. This can assist in the determination of a diagnosis.

TMJ Treatment

In some instances, the symptoms of a temporomandibular joint disorder will go away with no treatment necessary. If the cause is unknown and the symptoms continue, there are numerous treatment options. Sometimes, more than one is used simultaneously. Medications combined with a non-surgical treatment can offer relief from the pain of a TMJ disorder.

If over the counter medications such as anti-inflammatories and pain relievers do not provide relief, the dentist or physician may prescribe pain relievers for a short period of time including prescription strength ibuprofen. Tricyclic antidepressants including amitriptyline are sometimes prescribed for depression.

In low dosages, these medications are effective for pain relief, sleeplessness and bruxism control. Muscle relaxants can be used for a few weeks or just a few days for the pain resulting from muscle spasms due to TMJ.

In many cases, the NIDCR also recommends a “less is often best” approach in treating TMJ disorders

TMJ Therapies

The therapies not involving drugs used for TMJ disorders include:

Physical Therapy: Exercise is important for treating Temporomandibular joint disorder. In addition to exercise, strengthening and stretching the jaw muscles is important. The treatments may include ultrasound, ice, moist heat and exercise.

Occlusal Appliances: Appliances are used for TMJ such as mouth guards or oral splints. Individuals experiencing jaw pain often benefit from a firm or soft device placed over the teeth.

Counseling: Counseling and education enable the individual to understand the behaviors and factors triggering the pain so they can be avoided. This includes grinding or clenching the teeth and biting fingernails.

Surgical TMJ Procedures

When standard treatments are ineffective, the physician may recommend the following procedures.

Arthrocentesis: This procedure is minimally invasive. Small needles are inserted into the joint. This enables the irrigation of the fluid through the joint. Inflammatory byproducts and debris can then be removed.

TMJ Arthroscopy: In certain instances, arthroscopic surgery can treat different types of temporomandibular joint disorders as well as open-joint surgery. There are fewer risks and complications associated with TMJ arthroscopy than open-joint surgery. This procedure also as limitations.

Injections: Certain individuals will benefit from corticosteroid injections directly into the joint. Injections of (Botox) botulinum toxin type A directly into the muscles of the jaw may provide relief from the pain resulting from TMJ disorders.

Open-Joint Surgery: This is generally only an option if there is a structural issue diagnosed within the joint or if conservative treatments have been ineffective. The dentist or physician may recommend (arthrotomy) open-joint surgery to replace or repair the joint.

There are more risks with open-joint surgery than any of the other treatments. This procedure requires careful consideration. The individual should be aware of the pros and cons.

Modified Condylotomy: This is a way of indirectly addressing the TMJ. Surgery is performed on the mandible as opposed to the actual joint. This treatment is helpful for both locking and pain.

Contact our Brooklyn dental office today to schedule your appointment and meet with a dentist to see if it’s a TMJ related issue.

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foods that might cause bad breath halitosis - brooklyn dentist

Common Foods that Might Cause Bad Breath

Do you suffer from halitosis, commonly referred to as ‘bad breath’? Having bad breath can be embarrassing but if your mouth is healthy, the solution could be as simple as proper dental hygiene. Halitosis could also be a symptom of an underlying issue, such as gum disease or improper nutrition. Below, you can find a list of foods that could be causing your mouth odor and what treatment options you should take to eliminate bad breath.

According to The American Dental Association:

Halitosis – or chronic bad breath – is something that mints, mouthwash or a good brushing can’t solve. Unlike “morning breath” or a strong smell that lingers after a tuna sandwich, halitosis remains for an extended amount of time and may be a sign of something more serious.

Foods that could be causing short-term bad breath

Garlic, Onions, and Spicy Foods

It should be no surprise garlic and onions have the potential to give you bad breath. They are delicious but if you plan on eating them during your lunch break, be proactive and carry a toothbrush and toothpaste with you so you can brush afterward.


Have you ever heard of the phrase “coffee breath?” Sometimes having a cup of coffee in the morning is necessary to start your day, but make sure that you drink a bottle of water after to prevent odors from forming. Coffee is a diuretic so if you notice you’re getting dry mouth after a cup, brush and drink fluids to alleviate this side-effect.

Tuna and other Fish

Do you love seafood? Before you take a bite of that tuna sandwich, don’t forget your toothbrush. Seafood can leave you with bad breath if you’re not careful. You can fix this by popping a piece of gum into your mouth after eating. Another tip – put lemon or vinegar on your fish before you take a bite to reduce the fishy odor.

All of these foods can temporarily cause odors in your mouth but practicing good dental hygiene should eliminate the issue. Just make sure you brush and floss after eating. Also, you can try to eliminate these out of your diet, just to see if that improves the issue.

However, if you eliminate these foods out of your diet and practice proper hygiene but you still have halitosis, these are signs that there may be other issues causing you bad breath.

Foods that cause chronic mouth odor and bad breath

Nutrition and your bacteria play a major role in body odor. Halitosis can be a symptom of bacterial imbalance within your gut and mouth. Your oral bacteria break down what you eat and release a by-product called Volatile Sulfide Compounds (VSC). When there is an imbalance, there is a buildup of compounds, resulting in halitosis.

To decrease these odor-causing compounds, reduce the number of amino acids that you consume. How do you know that your odor is being caused by VSCs? There are three types of bad breath caused by VSCs:

Rotten egg smell

When you consume the amino acid cysteine, it breaks down and gives off an eggy smell. If your halitosis smells like eggs, try eliminating these from your diet:

  • Soybeans
  • Beef & lamb
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Chia seeds
  • Chicken, turkey, and pork
  • Oats
  • Dairy
  • Eggs
  • Legumes
  • Rotten Cabbage or Fishy Smell

Most bad breath is due to bacteria breaking down the hydrogen in the mouth. If you notice a fishy smell coming from your mouth, try eliminating these from your diet:

  • Beetroot
  • Asparagus
  • Cabbage
  • Corn
  • Seafood

The breakdown of the essential amino acid methionine is causing your mouth to have unpleasant odors. Usually, when it is broken down into methyl mercaptan, it is a sign that you have gum disease and that you may need to see a dentist.

If you want to avoid eating foods rich in methionine, keep these out your diet:

  • Cheese (Parmesan has the highest levels)
  • Brazil nuts
  • Lean beef & lamb
  • Chicken and turkey breast and pork sirloin
  • Fish
  • Eggs
  • Beans

Try to eliminate these foods from your diet to see if your halitosis improves. If this does help, you should also see a dentist to check your gum health.

Also to help restore bacterial balance in your mouth and gut, try taking a probiotic. Probiotics will reintroduce good bacteria into your body and help restore the balance that you need to reduce the unpleasant odors. Probiotics can be found in over-the-counter supplements, or in whole foods like yogurt.

Another way to restore the balance in your mouth bacteria is to temporarily eliminate carbs from your diet. Sugar and simple carbohydrates will increase bacterial imbalances and result in more odor-causing compounds to occur. Try to eliminate foods that are high in starches (potatoes, grains, corn, beans) and sugar; instead, substitute them for foods that are high in fiber.

Eat these foods to improve your halitosis / bad breath

To combat bad odors, try adding more acids to your diet. Increase your intake of lemons, limes, and apple cider vinegar to help combat halitosis. Just make sure that your brush your teeth afterward to protect your teeth. Also, add chlorophyll, zinc, and magnesium to your diet to help eliminate odors and deodorize your mouth.

If you’ve changed your diet and lifestyle, and still find that you’re suffering from bad breath, contact our Brooklyn dental office today and schedule a consultation with our dentists or hygienists. The issue may not be food or lifestyle related, but a deeper issue related to your oral hygiene.

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