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Temporomandibular joint disorders: TMJ symptoms and treatment


Disorders of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ): symptoms and treatment options

Does that the joint in your jaw hurts so much that you just don't feel like talking much right now?

In the United States, those who are coping with temporomandibular joint diseases make up about 12% of the population at any given moment. This phrase, which is a mouthful in and of itself, refers to the joint in your mouth that enables you to eat, drink, and speak. It's a blessing that the majority of issues associated with this joint are only transitory, but while you're in the thick of things, that may not be much of a consolation.

What exactly is TMJ?

Have you ever attended a Halloween party and seen one of those skeletons that sing and dance? If so, you've previously witnessed the function of the temporomandibular joint, also known as the TMJ. Each of us has two of these joints, one on each side of the head. These joints are called the zygomatic joints. They can be found at the area where the mandible, also known as the jawbone, meets the temporal bones of the skull, which can be found all around and in front of the ears. This is where that absurdly long name originates from.

Because it is a synovial joint, the synovial fluid that surrounds it helps to cushion any movement that takes place. It is also a double joint, which indicates that there are two synovial chambers that are completely independent from one another.

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) enables the jaw to move laterally, forward and backward, as well as hinge vertically.

What signs and symptoms are associated with TMJ disorders?

People who suffer from TMJ disorders (TMD) may exhibit a variety of symptoms, including the following:

  • Jaw or jaw muscle tenderness
  • Jaw stiffness, particularly in the morning
  • Jaw pain when eating or yawning
  • Earache
  • Facial pain
  • Difficulty opening and closing the mouth
  • Inflammation around the joint
  • Distinct clicking or popping noises when opening and closing the mouth
  • Headaches
  • Neckaches
  • Toothaches or sensitive teeth with no other apparent causes
  • Restricted joint movement or locking of the jaw

What are the reasons for TMJ disorders?

TMJ issues are more than two times as likely to impact women of childbearing age than they are to affect men. It is believed that increased levels of the hormones estrogen and progesterone create ligament laxity (greater play in the joint), which might add to the discomfort associated with TMJ.

Of course, this is not the only thing that might bring on TMD or contribute to its development.

Rheumatoid arthritis is a form of arthritis that is an autoimmune illness. Rheumatoid arthritis can be the primary cause of your TMJ pain since it leads your body to attack its own joints. According to the findings of a study conducted on persons who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis, over 93% of them experience issues with their TMJ.

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is not immune to the degenerative effects of osteoarthritis, which can affect any joint in the body.

Psoriatic arthritis is a chronic inflammatory joint disorder that can potentially impact the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) and can develop in approximately thirty percent of those who have psoriasis.


Dislocation or harm to the body

Have you recently been the victim of a hit to the jaw or have you had substantial dental work done? Too much strain on the joint can lead to difficulties, and this tension can be caused by trauma such as a blow to the area or prolonged straining.

Actions carried out repeatedly

Do you frequently pick at your fingernails or bite them? Do you chew gum on a regular basis? Do you clench your jaw or grind your teeth? Bruxism affects the jaws of some persons without their knowledge (nighttime tooth grinding). All of these things can cause your TMJ to get overworked and give you problems.

Jaw misalignment

TMD is frequently experienced by patients whose jaws are not aligned properly. The natural construction of the jaw is flawed, and as a result, it does not fit together as it should, which can result in a painful condition. Find a dentist who can assist in correcting these difficulties and relieving the discomfort.

Connective tissue disorders

Connective tissue disorders can cause the jaw to become too mobile or misaligned, both of which can be uncomfortable for the patient. TMJ pain can be caused by any one of these conditions.


Because anxiety and stress can have an effect on almost every organ and system of the body, we can't ignore the jaw in this discussion. Tense muscles in the face and neck, as well as a clenched jaw, can all contribute to jaw discomfort.


A number of different prescription drugs may also cause TMJ as a side effect. Oral contraceptives, antipsychotics, and antidepressants are all examples of these types of medications.

How are problems of the TMJ identified and treated?

The first thing you should do if you think you might have TMJ is to schedule an appointment with your primary care physician or dentist. Talk to your doctor about the symptoms you're experiencing, and don't forget to bring up any other health issues you could be dealing with, including arthritis.

Your jaw will be examined, and your range of motion will be observed, by your healthcare expert while you are being examined. Additionally, they will pay great attention to what you have to say and will feel the joints in your face when you open and close your mouth.

At this stage, if they have any reason to suspect that there is an issue, they will likely order testing so that they can take a more in-depth look. Radiographs taken at the dentist's office can be used to examine both the teeth and the bones. Your doctor may recommend getting a CT scan so that they may get more in-depth images of the bones. It is possible that an MRI will be required in order to examine the joint's soft tissue in greater detail.

TMJ disorders—do they ever go away?

Because the symptoms of TMJ can appear and disappear at any time, some people choose to ignore them when they are present and express gratitude when they are no longer an issue. TMJ can also be effectively treated using at-home therapies like exercises and relaxation techniques, as well as heating or cooling packs to apply to the affected area. You can also temporarily numb the discomfort and continue on with your day by taking over-the-counter pain medicines that aren't too strong.

There is some disagreement among medical professionals as to whether or not TMJ can resolve itself over time. For the vast majority of people, the answer is determined by the underlying reason for their discomfort.

On the other hand, nearly everyone will improve after receiving treatment. Since TMJ is typically quite responsive to a variety of treatment methods, there is really no justification for avoiding TMJ pain alleviation in any way, shape, or form.

Is it possible for a dentist to aid with TMJ?

If you suffer from pain in your jaw joint (TMJ) and have an appointment scheduled with your dentist soon, be sure to bring up the issue with your dentist. They can assist in the diagnosis of your condition and, if the root cause is of a dental nature, they may also be able to assist in the treatment of it.

They will likely recommend you to a medical specialist for expert medical assistance if they determine that the causes of your TMJ problems are related to a medical condition. After that, your doctor will analyze the results of the CT scan or MRI to decide which course of treatment is most appropriate for you.

Are diseases of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) covered by medical or dental insurance?

Concerned about the cost of diagnosing and treating your TMJ disorder? Don't be afraid. The treatment of TMJ disorder is typically covered by insurance. The only concern that needs to be addressed is which types of insurance will pay for it. There are occasions when the question of whether or not your medical or dental insurance will cover it is debated.

Treatments for TMJ are often covered by medical insurance in the majority of instances. This is due to the fact that a joint is still considered to be a joint regardless of where it is situated inside the body.

When should I make an appointment to see a dentist about my TMJ?

Do not put off getting treatment for TMJ if you are suffering any of the symptoms associated with the condition. If you believe that the reason of your troubles is a dental condition rather than one of the other potential causes that we have discussed, then going to a dentist may be the most appropriate first step for you to take.

TMJ can be treated by dentists when the condition is brought on by a misalignment of the jaw or by habits such as clenching the jaw or grinding the teeth (bruxism). The misalignment of your teeth can be corrected by having braces placed on them, or your dentist can build an oral device, commonly known as a splint or a bite plate, that will prevent your upper teeth from grinding against your lower teeth. Both of these options are available.

Medication, including muscle relaxants and anti-inflammatory medication, is also used to treat TMJ, along with other treatments.

Are you interested seeing a dentist in Summerlin, NV?

Are you sick and tired of suffering from the symptoms of TMJ? We sincerely hope that this article has shown you that the therapies available for TMJ issues are nothing to be afraid of and can significantly enhance your quality of life.





Dr. Marianne Cohan was voted The Best Dentist/ Dental Office and Best Cosmetic Dentist from The Las Vegas Review-Journal in 2020 and 2021. She received her Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) from the State University of New York at Buffalo in 1992.

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With an emphasis on cosmetic dentistry, complete makeovers, and implant dentistry, Dr. Cohan is committed to continuing education and feels that we never stop learning.  Dr. Cohan takes pride in using high-powered magnification to perform minimally invasive restorative dentistry. She uses all the latest technological advances including digital radiography, digital photography, computer simulations, and high-resolution pictures of your proposed treatment on 55-inch screens.  She also utilizes CBCT (cone beam) and laser technology.

Dr. Cohan is always available to her patients and is available for any dental emergency.



851 S Rampart Blvd #230, Las Vegas, NV 89145 | (702) 341-9160
851 S Rampart Blvd #230, Las Vegas, NV 89145 | (702) 341-9160