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TMJ Dentistry

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the joint that connects the lower jaw to the base of the skull in front of each ear. The TMJ consists of a lower jaw ball and skull base socket. Together, these joints rotate and slide due to the action of several muscles allowing the lower jaw to move up and down, side to side, forward and backward. TMJ function allows for chewing, talking, yawning, and swallowing. When parts of the TMJ are not operating properly temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD) can result.

TMJD is relatively common and around 30% of the population may be affected. For some people, TMJD can have a very negative impact on their lives. When the TMJ dislocates it can cause symptoms of headaches, migraines, neckache, tinnitus, fatigue, and pain.

There is no single cause of TMJ disorders. However, there are a few things that commonly result in TMJ pain. These include:

  • Injuries and Accidents – If you have experienced head or neck trauma, TMJ pain may be a residual effect of joint, muscle, and tissue damage.

  • Teeth Grinding – When a person grinds his or her teeth, a great deal of pressure is placed on the TMJ. This can result in chronic pain.

  • Arthritis – Some people experience TMJ arthritis which damages the cartilage.

  • Stress – While stress may result in a chronic condition like grinding of the teeth, sometimes it may also result in temporary pain due to clenching of the jaw. Over time, the result can be chronic TMJ pain.

  • Disc Misalignment – The jaw is a hinge joint. If the disc becomes misaligned or erodes, pain will result.


Unfortunately, it often is unclear what is causing TMJ pain. 

Common symptoms:

• Headaches and migraines

• Jaw joint clicking or grating

• Jaw clenching and bruxism (teeth grinding)

• Sleep apnea

• Atypical facial pain and neuralgias

• Facial muscle aches and tics

• Neck and shoulder pain

• Ear pain, tinnitus, hearing loss

• Muscle movement disorders


A multi-disciplinary approach is needed for some patients. 


TMJ Dentistry Treatments

A dentist with extended training in TMJ will begin by trying to identify the cause of your pain. This will include an examination as well as a detailed patient history that could reveal the cause (such as an injury or accident). Since the primary issue, regardless of the cause, often goes back to an abnormal bite, treatment will focus on correcting the bite. If our dentist with extended training on TMJ deems it necessary, you may be referred for imaging such as MRI or CBCT scans.

The underlying problem may require orthodontics to realign your bite. We will take impressions and have a custom-made appliance that will correct your bite and get you out of pain.


Does It Work?

In short: Yes! The prognosis for TMJ disorders is good, and TMJ dentistry can help relieve your pain in most cases.  So rather than trying to live with TMJ pain, see our clinician to determine if TMJ dentistry is right for you.

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