Temporomandibular Disorder/TMJ (Jaw Joint Disorders)

Temporomandibular joint disorder & treatment

If you are suffering from frequent headaches, jaw aches, and/or aching facial pain, it could be temporomandibular joint disorder, also known as TMJ or TMD. This condition involves your jaw joint and can make chewing and talking painful.

These aches and pains may be related to the jaw joint, called the temporomandibular joint, or TMJ, and the muscles that work to move the joint. These painful conditions are often called TMD for temporomandibular disorders.

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ)

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ)


Signs and symptoms

TMD is a condition, not a specific disease. Temporomandibular disorders can have many different signs and symptoms, from mild to severe. Some patients may have symptoms but are still able to function fully. TMDs appear to be more common in women.


Specific symptoms may include:

  • pain in or around the ear
  • tender jaw muscles
  • clicking or popping noises in the jaw
  • difficulty opening or closing the mouth
  • pain when yawning or chewing
  • jaw joints that feel as if they are “locked,” “stuck” or they “go out”
  • headaches


What causes TMD?

Several conditions may be linked with TMD. This often makes it difficult to pinpoint the cause of a particular case of TMD. Related conditions may include:

  • jaw or head injuries
  • diseases that affect the muscles or joints, such as arthritis
  • tooth grinding or clenching
  • stress


Treatment options

To determine how best to treat your condition, a complete evaluation is recommended. Your dentist may check the joints and muscles for tenderness, clicking, popping or difficulty moving. Your complete medical history may be reviewed, so it is important to keep your dental office record up-to-date. Your dentist may take x-rays and may make a model of your teeth to see how your bite fits together. Your dentist may also request specialized x-rays of the jaw joint.

For some patients, the disorders may disappear by themselves; for others, they may come and go or may worsen over time. TMD disorders are often managed, rather than cured. We may recommend treatment, or we may refer you to a physician or jaw joint specialist. There are several ways TMD may be managed. The success of the treatment often depends upon you and your dentist working together to find what works to relieve your symptoms.

Treatment may involve a series of steps. The step-by-step plan allows you to try simple treatment before moving on to more involved treatment. Experts generally recommend a “less is often best” approach to treating TMJ disorders.


The following self-care practices may be recommended:

  • eating softer foods or avoiding foods that cause symptoms
  • minimize extreme jaw movements, such as yawning or singing
  • avoid chewing gum
  • modifying the pain with heat or ice packs
  • practicing relaxation techniques to control jaw tension, such as meditation

If necessary, we may recommend the following to relieve your symptoms:

  • exercises to strengthen jaw muscles
  • medicines to reduce pain or inflammation or to help you relax
  • a night guard to decrease clenching or grinding of teeth
  • adjusting and fixing an uneven bite by reshaping how teeth fit together

If you think you might be suffering from TMD, please call our office to schedule an examination to discuss your concerns, symptoms and possible treatment options.

Make an appointment

Patient Reviews


Technology & Other

Digital Impressions

Digital impressions replace the traditional goopy impression material that was used to take molds of the teeth.   What are digital impressions? Digital impressions (also

Learn More »
carbon dioxide CO2 laser
Technology & Other

Laser Dentistry

Lasers have been used in dentistry since 1990 and are used for a wide range of dental procedures.   What is a laser and how

Learn More »
Seattle Smiles Dental – Veneers


If you want to change your smile, dental veneers are a simple option Veneers are thin coverings that are placed over the front (visible) part

Learn More »
Seattle Smiles Dental – Whitening Services
Technology & Other


The fastest way to get a whiter, brighter smile. Your smile creates an immediate, subconscious, visual impact on people you meet. A brighter smile gives the

Learn More »

Search Seattle Smiles Dental