Dr John Fisher, Maxillofacial & Oral Surgeon

Temporomandibular Joint Disorders (TMJ)

What are TMJ disorders?

The temporomandibular joint allows your jaw to move up and down in order to chew and talk comfortably. TMJ disorders affect this joint as well as the muscles in the face that control its movement.

What causes TMJ disorders?

A TMJ disorder can be caused by a number of factors, including clenching of the jaw muscles and teeth; teeth grinding; arthritis in the jaw joint and an injury to the jaw caused by a knock, fall or old injury.

What are the symptoms?

TMJ disorders are typically very painful and can cause severe jaw pain. Some of the most common symptoms include sensitivity in the face, neck and shoulders, and around the ears when chewing or yawning. It can also be difficult to open your mouth very wide, and there may be a clicking jaw when it moves. Chewing can be quite uncomfortable, and you may experience some swelling, toothache and headaches.

How can TMJ disorders be treated?

In some cases, TMJ can be treated with medication that can help to relieve swelling, discomfort and severe pain. Muscle relaxants may be prescribed by your dentist in the case of severe teeth grinding. If the grinding or clenching is caused by anxiety or stress, your doctor may need to prescribe medicine accordingly. Splints or night guards can also help as they prevent the upper and lower teeth from touching and decrease the impact of clenching and teeth grinding. Sometimes, however, your dentist may recommend a dental procedure which will help to balance out the surface of the teeth or remedy a problematic bite. In some cases, crowns, bridges and braces may be used to offer relief from TMJ disorders and to provide long-term solutions if the disorder is causing significant pain and discomfort that is negatively affecting your lifestyle.