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How a Dentist Helps Relieve TMJ Symptoms

Various dental treatments can help alleviate symptoms of TMJ. A dentist can help diagnose your TMJ disorder and may also refer you to a physician or a specialist dentist for further diagnosis. In many cases, treatment from an orthodontist can help alleviate TMJ symptoms.

What Is Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Disorder?

The temporomandibular joint is located on both sides of your head just in front of the ear. The joint connects the lower jaw (mandible) and the skull’s temporal bone. The TMJ allows the lower jaw to move in a wide range of motion and acts as a shock absorber. It helps the teeth come together for chewing, swallowing, and speaking.

TMJ disorder is an irregularity that causes pain in the temporomandibular joint and the muscles that control jaw movement. Its exact cause is unknown but may be caused by injury to the TMJ, arthritis, and teeth or jaw misalignment.

What Are the Symptoms of TMJ?

Several different symptoms are associated with TMJ disorder. The most common symptom is jaw pain, but other symptoms include ear pain, fullness or ringing, headaches, and difficulty opening or closing the mouth. In some cases, the jaw may lock in place.

Most TMJ symptoms only occur on one side of the head and are often worse in the morning. Jaw pain, facial pain, and eye pain are the most common symptoms, although neck and back pain, arm pain, and dizziness can also occur. TMJ is usually diagnosed by a dentist based on reported symptoms, but X-rays, CT scans, or MRI scans may be done to rule out other causes or confirm the diagnosis.

In essence, TMJ symptoms may include:

  • pain in the TMJ
  • pain in the jaw, neck, shoulders, and back
  • tenderness or pain in the muscles that control jaw movement
  • a clicking or popping sound when opening or closing the mouth
  • difficulty chewing or pain when chewing
  • a feeling of locking of the jaw when trying to open the mouth
  • headaches

What Are the Available Treatments for TMJ?

There are a few different ways to manage TMD, but the simplest way is to avoid any activities contributing to the problem. For example, you should try switching to tablets if you chew gum. Other suggestions may include:

  • Changing your sleep position
  • Addressing head and neck posture
  • Controlling anxiety or depression symptoms through cognitive behavioral therapy

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen, tricyclic antidepressants, and muscle relaxants can relieve discomfort if symptoms persist. However, there are potential side effects, and long-term studies have not determined that these medications are generally effective. Physical therapy may also have some beneficial effects on jaw function and pain.

Dentists can help improve TMJ function through different methods. One way is by fitting the person for a night guard. This prevents teeth from grinding and can be worn at night. Another method is treating the person with an injection of cortisone and anesthetic into the joint. This decreases inflammation and pain. Moreover, Botox can be used to relax the muscles in the jaw. This results in less stress, less inflammation, and less pain in the joint.


A dentist can help relieve TMJ symptoms in several ways. They can perform a physical examination of the jaw and face to look for any obvious signs of dysfunction, and they can also take X-rays to rule out any underlying problems. They may also recommend or prescribe a mouth guard or splint to help protect the teeth and jaw from further damage. In some cases, they may also recommend surgery to correct the problem.

Manassas Smiles offers complete dental care services like cosmetic dentistry, dental implants or gum disease treatment under one roof. If you suffer from frequent headaches, have difficulty chewing or experience chronic jaw pain, you may be showing signs of TMJ disorder. Manassas family dentist, Dr. Nadder Hassan, provides bite analysis and jaw alignment screening, helping diagnose and treat the cause of TMJ disorder to alleviate painful symptoms. If you want to explore TMJ treatment options for your specific case, get in touch with us! Call us at (703) 335-1020 to set an appointment.

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