TMJ Examinations & Treatment

Symptoms of TMJ

Do you have persistent jaw pain? Does it hurt to chew? Do you have trouble opening and closing your mouth sometimes?  If so, you may have TMJ.

TMJ, short for temporomandibular joint syndrome, is an inflammation in the hinge that connects your lower jaw to your skull. You can develop TMJ when you grind your teeth, clench them regularly, or when you’ve received trauma to your jaw. Arthritis can cause TMJ, too, as can infections, cancer, and bone deformities.

Left untreated, TMJ can cause chronic face pain or headaches. 

How does a dentist diagnose TMJ?

TMJ examinations are painless.

One of our dentists will place his fingers on either side of your jaw to feel what happens when you open and close your mouth. Your dentist will also be listening to what your jaw sounds like as it opens and closes, and observing the range of your jaw’s motion.

Sometimes we might use a panoramic X-ray to verify the existence of TMJ. (See our full-head x-ray page for more details on how panoramic x-rays work.)

How do dentists treat TMJ, and are there home remedies for TMJ?

When the case is mild, we might simply recommend a few home remedies. Those may include ice packs, over-the-counter pain medication, and eating soft food. Sometimes we teach patients gentle jaw exercises to do at home.

We often recommend lifestyle changes as well. For example, there is a strong link between TMJ and stress. You may find significant relief by managing daily anxieties with meditation, or daily exercise. Even short, 15-minute walks can help. It can also be useful to limit your intake of alcohol and caffeine.

For a more-advanced case of TMJ we might recommend a dental splint. A dental splint is a mouth guard that keeps you from grinding your teeth at night (similar to what we use to manage bruxism). We may also recommend physical therapy or prescribe medications. Muscle relaxants and steroid injections can both be very effective, as can some sleep medications.

If you have a severe case you might need surgery. Usually TMJ surgery is minimally invasive.

Often the best solution is to address the underlying cause(s). For example, if arthritis is causing your TMJ then treating the arthritis can yield the desired results.

Think you might have TMJ? Call Pure Dental Arts today

The conditions leading to TMJ rarely go away on their own, especially if you’ve got TMJ because you are a perpetual teeth-grinder. Don’t suffer in silence. Give Pure Dental Arts a call today to set your appointment.