TMJ Disorders: Symptoms and Treatment

TMJ Disorders: Symptoms and Treatment

Jan 01, 2022

Temporomandibular disorders occur when the temporomandibular joint and muscles are not functioning correctly. The TMJ is the joint intersecting the skull and the jawbones. TMJ disorders can either affect the joint or the muscles controlling the joint.

TMJ disorders cause pain and reduce the movement of the jaw. In some cases, you can hear the clicking sound of the joints. Although the disorders are not very severe, they can wreck your good times. They are therefore treatable with simple treatments.

There are three main categories of TMJ disorders. They include:

  • Internal derangement of the TMJ – involves a dislocated jaw, a displaced jaw, or an injured condyle.
  • Myofascial pain – involves pain or discomfort in the muscles that control the jaws.
  • Arthritis – involves some degenerative arthritis that can affect TMJ.

Causes of TMJ Disorders

The actual cause of TMJ disorders is not yet known to researchers. In most people, the pain resulting from the condition appears without an apparent reason. The condition is predominant in women than in men. Even though there isn’t any common cause of TMJ disorders, some risk factors are associated with the condition.

TMJD Risk Factors

  • Certain types of arthritis
  • Sleep apnea
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Long term teeth clenching
  • Trauma to the jaw
  • Wearing braces
  • Excessive gum chewing
  • Wearing mouthguards
  • Teeth grinding (bruxism)
  • Development of wisdom teeth
  • Misalignment of the jaw


  • Facial pain
  • Locking of the TMJ
  • Difficulty chewing
  • Pain on your jaw, particularly the joints
  • Clicking sound during chewing or opening your mouth

If you observe the signs and symptoms above, you should visit a qualified dentist for TMJD treatment. Steven F. Hinchey, DMD, is highly skilled and handles all types of TMJ disorders.

TMJ Treatment

TMJ disorders exhibit persistent pain and difficulty opening your mouth, whether eating or chewing. The pain goes away within several days. However, if the pain does not disappear, seek medical attention from a dental specialist. The dentist will discuss various treatment options for you. They include:

Lifestyle change

When experiencing symptoms of TMJ disorders, lifestyle modification at home is essential. Avoid eating crunchy foods, chewing gum, clenching your teeth, and resting your chin on your hand. Also, use cold packs, heat packs, and eat soft foods.

TMJ exercises

You can also perform some oral exercises that engage the TMJ to treat the disorders. Include the activities in your daily routine to enhance your jaw’s mobility. The exercises stretch, relax, and strengthen the joints and the adjourning muscles.

Your dentist helps you determine the type of dental exercises to conduct, depending on the severity of your symptoms. Most widely used TMJ exercises include mouth movement with tongue up, forcefully opening the mouth, side-to-side jaw movement, relaxed jaw exercise, chin tucks, and forward jaw movement.


The dentist may recommend counseling and mindfulness to minimize stress linked to TMJD symptoms. Other therapies include acupuncture, physical therapy, osteopathy, and chiropractic work.


When experiencing TMJ side effects caused by teeth clenching or bruxism, a mouth guard helps alleviate a lot of pressure from your teeth and jaw. It also offers a cushion between your teeth to prevent teeth clenching and grinding.


If the first two options are unsuccessful, taking medication is recommended. Initially, you can use over-the-counter painkillers under medical supervision. If they are not effective, the dentist prescribes short-term painkillers that are strong. Some common medications include tricyclic antidepressants in low doses and muscle relaxants.

TMJ procedures

Doctors deploy complex treatments if all other options fail to yield substantial results. The most popular TMJ procedure is arthrocentesis which involves removing fluid from the joints. Also, steroid or Botox injections relax the muscles.

The specialist dentist may refer you to a dental surgeon for an open-joint surgery in extreme cases. The surgery is ideal when there are outright structural issues in the joint. It repairs the joint or replaces it if badly damaged. The procedure is very delicate and requires caution when conducting a risk assessment.

Other popular TMJ surgeries include arthrocentesis, condylotomy, disc repositioning, and discectomy. Although surgeries are highly invasive, they are highly effective in treating temporomandibular joint disorders.


If you observe some symptoms of TMJD, visit a local dentist to aid in diagnosis. If the symptoms are low to mild, the dentist will recommend home treatment. Alternatively, the dentist will use ideal medical procedures to help you relieve the pain.

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