Recognizing the Signs of TMJ

TMJ disorders can cause severe pain and discomfort, which may either be temporary or last years. This may affect either one or both sides of the face. It affects women more commonly than men, and it shows up most frequently in patients between the ages of 20 and 40. Common symptoms of TMJ include:

A bite that suddenly feels uncomfortable

Feeling “tired” in the face


Jaws getting “stuck” or “locked” in the open- or closed-mouth position

Pain or tenderness in or around the ear when chewing, speaking, or opening the mouth wide

Pain or tenderness in the face, jaw joint area, neck, and shoulders

Problems opening the mouth wide

Swelling on the side of the face

hurt, pain, toothache, boy, cry, child,

Trouble chewing

Many of these symptoms overlap with other conditions, making proper diagnosis critical. A complete health dentist will conduct a physical exam and ask the patient about their health history to rule out (or identify) any other health issues the patient may have. They will also check the jaw, bite, and facial muscles for functionality. Full-face X-rays, MRIs, or CT scans may also be necessary, depending on the severity of the patient’s condition.

Jaw pain after sleeping, bruxisum TMJ teeth clenching


Seeing a Complete Health Dentist for TMJ

Patients looking for TMJ treatment should consider complete health dentistry, as it focuses on how the patient’s overall health may affect and be affected by their condition. At best, TMJ is an annoyance. At worst, it is excruciatingly inescapable. A TMJ dentist knows how to address the root cause of this condition rather than just temporarily alleviating its symptoms.
Studies have shown that TMJ patients are more sensitive to pain. They also present body pain areas more frequently than their counterparts. Experts hypothesize that this implies a generalized dysfunction of the patient’s nociceptive system, the sensory nervous system’s way of encoding harmful stimuli. Thus, those with TMJ may have high rates of other painful conditions and systemic diseases occurring at the same time.
Primary care dental is available at 75th Ave Dental Studio in Glendale and the surrounding area. A complete health dentist can help reduce your TMJ woes while improving your overall health.


Treating TMJ

TMJ symptoms sometimes go away without treatment. However, if symptoms persist, patients may need to seek medical treatment. A complete health dentist can identify the symptoms’ root cause and devise a customized treatment plan tailor-made for the patient’s unique and individual needs. If over-the-counter pain medication does not relieve a patient’s discomfort, a dentist may prescribe more potent pain relievers and anti-inflammatories on an as-needed basis.
Oral appliances, such as splints or mouth guards, may also help, as those with jaw pain often benefit from wearing a soft or firm device over their teeth. Certain jaw exercises may assist in stretching and strengthening the jaw muscles. Physical therapy for jaw pain may include ultrasound, moist heat, and ice. Surgery may be necessary if these treatments are insufficient. Such procedures include arthrocentesis, TMJ arthroscopy, modified condylotomy, and open-joint surgery. Some patients also benefit from corticosteroid injections.

Dentist with teeth jaw model in hand.


FAQ's About TMJ

  • Is there anything I can do to alleviate my TMJ symptoms at home?

    TMJ flare-ups are common and typically resolve themselves within a few weeks. Still, this does not lessen the importance of treatment — especially if your symptoms cause discomfort. Encouraging the jaw joint to relax can assist in healing. You can do this by applying moist heat or ice to the affected area, resting the jaw by avoiding unnecessary use, supporting the jaw when, and reducing stress levels. Over-the-counter anti-inflammatories can also help. Reduce your stress levels, if possible, and consider jaw exercises.

  • What are some jaw exercises that can help relieve my TMJ pain?

    One exercise you can try is to push down on the bottom teeth with one hand while pushing upwards with your jaw. You may also want to try placing your thumb below the chin, putting light pressure on the chin bone. Open your mouth slowly, working against the resistance.

  • Is TMJ causing my headaches and migraines?

    It is possible. Many people experience headaches and migraines due to TMJ pain, which may also radiate to the shoulders. It typically begins near the ears, forehead, or scalp. As such, TMJ headaches are commonly mistaken for tension headaches.

  • What is splint therapy for TMJ?

    In splint therapy, a splint (also known as a mouth or bite guard) is placed over the teeth to prevent the patient from grinding their teeth, clenching their jaw, or doing any other movement that could aggravate their TMJ. Splints are custom-made for each patient’s individual needs, meaning they may be either soft or hard. Splints relax the muscles in the mouth and support the bite.

  • How long will I need to wear my splint?

    As every patient is different, the answer to this varies on a case-by-case basis. Typically, however, patients should not wear a splint for more than six months at a time, as overusing a splint can cause further issues. Our professional team can discuss this further with you while devising your individualized treatment plan.