TMD and TMJ

Treatment and Pain Relief

Unlike many dentists, we provide a comprehensive approach to dentistry. Not only do we provide family and cosmetic dental treatments like fillings, dental implants, teeth whitening and veneers, but we also often see patients who are experiencing pain and stiffness in their jaw, or what is sometimes described as TMJ disorder. "TMJ" stands for Temporomandibular Joint, or "jaw joint", and unfortunately this is a common area for recurring pain.

The jaw joint assists in the basic opening and closing movement of the jaw. Although conventional wisdom suggests that “popping” sounds in the jaw indicates a TMJ dysfunction, this is not always true. Many times, your jaw is functioning properly even if a “popping” sound is present when chewing or talking.

Some signs of a TMJ dysfunction can include:

  • Pain or tightness in the sides of the face
  • Pain in front of the ear or sides of the head
  • Headaches                           
  • Joint sounds like popping or crunching
  • Episodes of jaw locking, closed or open

How We Can Help

Dr. Susan offers a TMJ exam that evaluates the joint tissue in the "hinge" of the jaw. Possible problems include swelling, deterioration of the joint tissue or damaged joint tissue (which cushions the jaw bones during the opening and closing movement of the mouth). Common pain relievers and cold compresses can provide temporary relief for most cases of TMJ disorder.

For more serious cases of TMJ disorder, we will recommend alternate treatments. Often, we will suggest using a mouth guard to relieve teeth grinding. In some cases, we will instruct you to use orthodontic appliances or retainers to alleviate discomfort or redirect positioning of the jaw joint. For the most severe cases of TMJ, we may recommend certain surgical procedures.