Common TMJ & TMD Questions

Do you live in Allen or Fairview, Texas and suffer from TMJ Disorder?

Common TMJ TMD Questions - Fairview Dentist

If you’re suffering from jaw pain related to your temporomandibular joint (TMJ), or you have been diagnosed with temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD), then you may be curious about what causes TMJ and how it can be treated. Below we’ve collected some common questions about TMJ disorder and how you can find relief from your jaw pain with TMJ treatment.

What is a TMJ disorder?

Your temporomandibular joint is a hinge that connects your jaw bone to your temporal bone. It controls jaw movement, allowing you to move your jaw back and forth and to chew. Temporomandibular disorders, known more commonly as TMD, involve problems with your jaw joints, jaw muscles, or surrounding muscles and tendons.

When problems arise with your TMJ, it can cause severe pain, discomfort, migraines, affect the person’s ability to speak, eat, chew, and swallow. It’s generally characterized by aching, throbbing, or pain around your lower face and joints. The joint pain may last temporarily or may last indefinitely without treatment, depending on the severity of the case. This disorder is more common in women between the ages of 20 and 50 compared to men.

What's the difference between TMD and TMJ?

Many people confuse TMJ (temporomandibular joint) and TMD (temporomandibular joint disorder) and think they mean the same thing, but that’s a common misconception as they’re completely different. When your doctor mentions TMJ, we’re referring to the small, delicate joint that connects your jaw to your skull, just in front of your ears. When we refer to TMD, we’re referring to the joint and how it is affected by irritation or inflamation that often leads to pain or discomfort.

Some symptoms of this disorder include facial pain, headaches, toothaches, and even earaches. In essence, TMJ refers to the joint, while TMD refers to various disorders and issues that causes severe pain and affect the functionality of the TMJ.

Ask Yourself These Questions to Find Out if You Have a TMJ Disorder

If you are experiencing pain or discomfort in your jaw, face, neck, or shoulders, ask these questions to find out if you have some of the common symptoms of TMJ disorder.

  • Is there pain or tenderness in your face, jaw joint area, neck, and shoulders?
  • Discomfort or tension radiating behind the eyes
  • When you speak, or open your mouth broadly, do you experience ear pain?
  • Do you have difficulty chewing while eating?
  • Do you have problems opening my jaw where it gets “stuck” or “lock” in the open or closed mouth position?
  • Does your face feel tired throughout the day?
  • Is your jaw sore, or do you have a sudden uncomfortable bite—as if the upper and lower teeth are not fitting together correctly?
  • Is there swelling on the side of your face?
  • Are you frequently bothered by headaches, neck pain or earaches? Does your hearing fluctuate? Do you experience dizziness or ringing in your ears at times?
  • Do you experience your jaw and/or tongue freezing up and not moving, or “freezing” in place? 
  • Is there an audible noise such as a clicking sound / popping sound when opening or closing your mouth?

Who is at risk for developing TMD?

You may be at particular risk of developing a TMJ disorder if you experience any of the following:

  • Arthritis or other joint diseases
  • Bruxism or teeth grinding at night
  • Misaligned or bad bite
  • Jaw clenching
  • Stress
  • Poor posture
  • Genetics
  • Head or jaw injury 

For most people, TMJ disorder develops when the position of your jaw joints, the functioning of your jaw muscles, and the fit of your teeth are out of alignment.

Can I test myself for TMJ disorder?

If you think you have TMJ disorder, click here to learn more about how you can test yourself for the wear and tear of your teeth, the position of your jaw, and the mobility of your neck. Although some tests are easy enough to do on your own, it’s still best to seek the help of a health professional if you’re concerned about whether you have TMJ disorder or not.

Will My TMJ Therapy Be Covered by Insurance?

It varies between dental insurance plans, but in most cases, your dental insurance will not cover the cost of TMJ treatment in Fairview, TX, so you will have to pay out-of-pocket unless you can get pre-approval from your insurer.  

If you need help financing your treatment, we partnered with CareCredit or LendingPoint to give you the financial support you need at 0% interest. Overall, we’ll create a plan that fits within your expectations for comfort and price so that you can get the TMJ treatment you need.

How is TMJ diagnosed and who treats TMJ disorders?

A dentist will perform a physical examination to determine if you suffer from TMJ disorder. Your dentist will observe your jaw’s range of motion at your consultation and feel your jaw as it opens and closes. The doctor will observe how easily your jaw moves and how it feels as it moves. By pressing gently on the surrounding areas and your temporomandibular joint, your dentist will be able to identify areas of particular tenderness or pain. Your doctor will also take a closer look with a CBCT scan which will provide a more detailed picture of the area in 3D, pinpoint the source of the pain, and provide the relief you need.

After your examination, your TMJ treatment will vary depending on the doctor’s findings. Treatment options include, but are not limited to:

  • Warm compress to the area
  • Stress management and relaxation techniques
  • Physical therapy
  • Oral device like bite splint therapy
  • Facial exercises
  • Anti-inflammatory medication like ibuprofen
  • Muscle relaxants
  • Oral Surgery in severe cases
  • Night guard to prevent teeth clenching or grinding

Can I Treat My TMD at Home?

Besides receiving professional care for relief, there are simple steps you can take at home to get immediate comfort. Some lifestyle changes we recommend include:

  • Heat from a hot water bottle can reduce pain, while ice pack can decrease inflammation, 
  • Ask your doctor about taking over-the-counter medications such as anti-inflammatories to help with pain management.
  • Avoid chewing gum or foods that cause discomfort such as  hard foods such as corn on the cob or whole fruits that require you to stretch your jaw. 
  • To give your jaw some rest and make it easier on your mouth, we recommend eating softer foods such as scrambled eggs, applesauce, smoothies and other soft foods.
  • Giving your jaw a chance to rest gives your muscles a chance to recover and from being overworked.
  • Avoid making exaggerated movements with your jaw
  • Meditation or yoga to help minimize general stress level

Will I Need Surgery?

Many treatments are available to relieve TMD pain, but surgical treatments should only be considered if conservative treatments do not work. Before discussing whether or not surgery is necessary, your local dentist in Fairview will recommend a conservative holistic approach such as an occlusal splint therapy before suggesting surgery.

How Can I Prevent TMJ Disorder?

You can reduce the risk of developing a TMJ disorder by practicing good posture and relaxing your jaw muscles whenever possible. It’s also important to have regular dental checkups performed so that your dentist can catch any potential bite or jaw issues early on, and take preventative measures.

Is TMD Life-Threatening if It’s Not Treated?

The good news is that temporomandibular disorder (TMD) isn’t life-threatening. However, the various symptoms such as headaches, ringing in the ears, neck and shoulder pain tend to worsen over time if ignored. If left untreated, it could severely affect your quality of life, your teeth, your overall mood, as well as your ability to sleep. Fortunately, if you treat it early on, your symptoms will subside in no time!

Have more TMD OR TMJ questions?

If you have questions or would like to schedule an appointment with a member of our staff, please don’t hesitate to contact us at (972) 468-1440 or contact our office by leaving us a message. We know how frustrating TMJ symptoms can be and that your TMJ disorder is unique to you. We will provide expert diagnosis and a treatment plan to relieve your chronic pain and get your life back on track. Our dental office is located in Fairview, Texas, and our patients visit us from across the surrounding areas, including Allen, Plano, McKinney, and Lucas.