TMJ Awareness: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

The temporomandibular joint is a sliding hinge that joins your skull to the jawbone. It allows you to chew, yawn, and talk. It also facilitates side-to-side and up-and-down movement. Problems with your facial muscles and jaw can result in disorders. 

There is no definite cause for these complications, but heavy blows to your head and whiplash can lead to them. Temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ) can disrupt your life. Get to know the symptoms, causes, and treatment so you can mitigate some of the issues.



TMJ disorders can be broad. However, you can determine the type you are experiencing by checking for the following symptoms.


  • Tenderness or pain in the temporomandibular joint area. The pain may extend to your face, neck, and shoulders.

  • You feel pain when speaking, chewing, or opening your mouth wide.

  • You cannot open your mouth wide.

  • Your jaw locks when you open or close your mouth.

  • Grating, clicking, or popping sounds when you chew, open, or close your mouth.

  • Trouble chewing and misalignment of teeth.

  • Swelling on either side of your face.

  • A feeling of tiredness on your face.


TMJ disorders may cause headaches, toothaches, earaches, dizziness, or tinnitus (ringing in the ears). Seek medical attention when you notice any of the above symptoms.




There is no clear cause for TMJ disorders. They are difficult to determine. However, a combination of factors may lead to them. They include the following:




It refers to the unconscious clenching, gnashing, and grinding of teeth. It can happen when you are awake or asleep. The actions may be due to anxiety, stress, or even medication. However, the bottom line is that it causes pressure on the mandibular joint. People with bruxism experience headaches, toothaches, and damage to teeth. These symptoms and pain in your jaw indicate TMJ disorder.




There is some evidence that genetics can cause TMJ. It does not mean that you will inherit it. Several other risk factors need to align for this to happen. But if several family members have TMJ, take proper precautions. These may include stress and anxiety management.




Some professions can make you more likely to develop TMJ than others. An example is violinists who hold their instruments under their jaw. The strain may lead to TMJ disorders.




Physical injury during sporting activities or car accidents can cause TMJ. Thus, you need to observe the symptoms and ensure you get treatment as soon as possible.




Your dentist may recommend medication, wearing a night guard, or relaxation techniques you can do at home. In some cases, you may need dental work to correct damage to teeth. If these do not work, they can incorporate other treatments. These include:


  • TENS or Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation: It involves the application of low levels of electrical currents. These will relax your facial muscles and jaw joints.

  • Low-level Laser Therapy: It deals with inflammation and pain.

  • Radio Wave Therapy: It eases pain by increasing blood flow to stimulate the joint.

  • Ultrasound: The deep heat it generates relieves soreness and improves your mobility.

  • Surgery: Before taking this action, get several opinions from dentists. It should be a last resort.


For more information on TMJ, call Concierge Smile Boutique at (424) 404-6400 to schedule an appointment at our office in Culver City, California.