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TMJ Disorders can happen at any time, and they cause a variety of uncomfortable and painful health issues. Among the symptoms of TMJ are jaw pain, pain in your mouth, teeth, face, or shoulders, headaches, and difficulties opening and closing the mouth.

Temporomandibular Joint Disorder,  or TMJ, may not appear to be that bad initially. Yet without proper treatment it can certainly become a very painful issue. That’s why it’s so important for your oral health and your overall health, to address TMJ symptoms quickly, before they get worse.

What Causes of TMJ Pain and Discomfort?

The temporomandibular joint, which connects your jaw to your head can cause a number of  painful issues. And these issues can escalate when the joint is irritated or compromised, growing from an inconvenience to extreme rapidly. Why does this occur? It happens because the temporomandibular joint is centrally located, making it easy for discomfort and pain to radiate from the jaw to your mouth and teeth, spreading to your ears and eyes, neck and head, and even to your shoulders. 

TMJ can be caused all too easily by regular daily behavior such as eating, yawning, and talking. Gum chewing can also cause TMJ. Nighttime teeth grinding and teeth and jaw clenching can also cause TMJ. And as anyone who has experienced TMJ knows, it’s all too easy to find themselves suffering from typical daily actions like these.

What Happens If TMJ Is Not Treated?

If left untreated, pain can increase exponentially over time. And while over-the-counter pain relievers can help, they’re not a cure. If TMJ is caused because of teeth grinding, your sleep will most likely also be interrupted and disturbed. That can lead to still other issues such as insomnia, depression, confusion, or brain fog. 

As to your dental health, TMJ caused by teeth grinding may also cause stress and extreme wear on your teeth. It can create cracked or chipped teeth over time. You may also develop additional symptoms such as jaw clicking, indentions in the tongue, sensitive teeth, and/or toothaches.

Because the temporomandibular joint is located directly beneath your ears, if you don’t seek proper treatment, you can end up experiencing conditions such as tinnitus or inner ear problems like dizziness. Even your vision can be negatively affected if TMJ is left untreated.

TMJ can also cause jaw problems, which will worsen over time. Jaw problems include issues such as your jaw becoming stuck, which might make an emergency room trip necessary.  And, if left untreated, the cartilage in your jaw may also become injured, which can lead to more severe conditions such as  jaw dislocation. 

Sufferers can also find common issues related to chewing and biting, making eating anything but soft foods painful. They may even experience swelling in the jaw or face.

TMJ can flare up at any time, and the condition can commonly last between two days and a few weeks. Consuming soft foods and applying cool or hot packs to your facial area can help to relieve pain but are not a permanent fix.

TMJ Treatment

The most common way to relieve TMJ symptoms and treat the condition itself is through the use of a mouthguard. Wearing a TMJ mouthguard provides a cushion for your jaw and your teeth. It will relieve pressure and TMJ symptoms, and prevent nighttime teeth grinding and jaw clenching.

Making a custom mouth guard is simple for your dental team. We can create a well-fitted, custom guard made from an impression of your mouth, molded using a special, comfortable material that is also durable. 

We can also recommend effective TMJ exercises and relaxation techniques which can also help alleviate symptoms and prevent flare ups. 

Ready to Learn More About TMJ Disorders?

If you’re ready to learn more about TMJ disorders, and put an end to flare ups, we’re ready to help relieve the discomfort and pain of TMJ. Reach out to us today!

When TMJ disorder is left untreated, it can begin to have widespread effects on the body. Although the disorder begins in the temporomandibular joints (TMJ), when the TMJ are dysfunctional, it often causes chronic pain that impacts your overall quality of life. By identifying the root cause of your TMJ disorder, we can develop a customized approach to treatment that alleviates the true source of your chronic pain. When TMJ disorder isn’t addressed, it can cause the following symptoms:

Chronic Jaw Pain and Joint Damage

TMJ disorder (TMD) symptoms are likely to be occasional annoyances when you first start noticing them, triggered by stress, eating certain tough or chewy foods, or opening your mouth too wide. While your TMJ cause you discomfort, it’s not unbearable and your symptoms come-and-go; as soon as you’re bothered enough to make an appointment, your pain resolves and you forget about it—until the next flare-up.

As TMD progresses, the temporomandibular joints may begin to deteriorate, causing persistent pain and other joint symptoms such as jaw popping, cracking, and locking. You may experience tenderness and pain in your face, neck, and shoulders as a result of this jaw joint dysfunction.

If the bones in your temporomandibular joints have degenerated to the point where they no longer function effectively, TMJ surgery may be required. Taking a proactive approach to TMD treatment will help you avoid surgery.

Compromised Oral Health

Bruxism, or teeth grinding and jaw clenching, is among the most common causes of TMD. These habits can wear down your tooth enamel over time, leaving the teeth vulnerable to fractures, and can cause gum recession. TMJ disorder can also lead to asymmetrical muscle growth and abnormal tooth wear, which can affect your facial appearance and cause further dental issues.



TMJ disorder is often the underlying cause of tension headaches and migraines. In fact, headaches are one of the most common signs of TMD, aside from jaw pain. When chronic joint dysfunction and inflammation trigger headaches, they can become so frequent that they impact your ability to work and go about your other daily activities. A doctor may provide you with a prescription for your migraines, but as soon as your medication wears off, your headaches will come back because the joint dysfunction causing them remains unresolved.

Ear and Hearing Issues

It’s common to experience TMD symptoms in the ears because the temporomandibular joints are located adjacent to the ear canals. TMJ disorder can cause tinnitus (ringing in the ears), making it difficult to sleep and concentrate, as well as feelings of fullness or pain in the ear canals. Because the inner ears are associated with our sense of balance, when the muscles surrounding the TMJ are inflamed and impacting the ear canals, it can cause dizziness, vertigo, and unsteadiness.

Learn More About TMJ Disorder

Do you think you have TMJ disorder? Have you been diagnosed with TMD, but haven’t found a treatment that works? Contact us today at 505-292-1051 to schedule an appointment today with Dr. Dennis, a TMJ specialist in Albuquerque.

TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint, which is the place where your lower jaw attaches to your skull near the ear or temple area of your face. When something goes wrong with this joint, it is often referred to as TMJ, when it is actually a TMJ disorder. Problems with TMJ are common and can often be resolved easily with simple treatments.

When you do have a problem with TMJ, who do you call? Should you see a primary care physician? An ENT (ear, nose, and throat specialist)? Or a dentist?

You Should See a Dentist for TMJ Disorder

TMJ disorder is most often diagnosed and treated by a dentist. A dentist diagnoses and treats your oral health as a whole, which includes the jaw. Symptoms and problems related to the jaw also affect the health of your teeth in many cases, and vice versa. Problems with your teeth can cause TMJ disorder to occur. Because of the close relationship between dental health and jaw health, TMJ disorders are most often treated by dentists.

Symptoms of TMJ Disorder

TMJ disorder has a wide range of symptoms, some of which are confusing, making the patient think the problem is elsewhere instead of the jaw. Symptoms include:

  • Jaw pain. Jaw pain can occur at any place in the jaw or at the joint where the jaw meets the skull in the temple area.
  • Restricted movement of the jaw. Sometimes the joint will lock, making it difficult to open and close your mouth.
  • Pain in the teeth. Your teeth will sometimes feel sore due to grinding or clenching your jaws together.
  • Headaches. It is common to experience headaches with TMJ disorder, especially in the temple area of the head.
  • Ear pain. Sometimes the pain of TMJ feels as if it is in the ear, often mistaken for an ear infection.

If you experience any of these symptoms, you should contact your dentist to schedule an examination. It’s very common to think your ear pain is related to something else rather than your jaw, but it is a normal symptom of TMJ disorder. Unless you are prone to ear infections or you have recently experience cold or flu symptoms, it is more likely related to your jaw pain.

Causes of TMJ Disorder

There are a variety of factors that can cause or contribute to TMJ disorder, such as:

  • Injury. If you experience a blow to the jaw or the side of the head, it can cause the jaw joint to be off center or for the cartilage and muscles to be inflamed.
  • Teeth grinding. Long term teeth grinding or clenching inflicts pressure on the jaw joint and can cause it to become irritated or inflamed.
  • Arthritis. Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis can cause inflammation of the joints including the TMJ.
  • Connective tissue diseases. These types of disorders affect tendons, ligaments, and cartilage, all of which can be a problem when it comes to TMJ disorder.

Treatment for TMJ Disorder

Some treatment options can be applied at home and others require the help of a dentist. The first steps should include applying ice to the jaw to reduce inflammation and eating soft foods to allow the jaw to relax. You can also take anti inflammatory pain relievers.

If these do not provide relief, your dentist may prescribe you stronger pain relief medication and muscle relaxants in order to accelerate relief and healing.

The next step in the treatment process may involve wearing a mouthguard to prevent teeth grinding and clenching. By restricting these behaviors, the jaw will have time to heal and the joint will eventually relax.

If none of the above can relieve your TMJ disorder, your dentist may recommend injections or even surgery. Severe cases may require replacement of the joint.

Experiencing Symptoms of TMJ Disorder? Contact Brian K. Dennis, DDS

If you’re wondering who you should see about TMJ symptoms in Albuquerque, contact Brian K. Dennis, DDS. Dentists are the most qualified medical professionals to diagnose and treat TMJ disorder. Dr. Dennis’s practice has been providing a complete range of dental services to Albuquerque and the surrounding area for over 30 years.

Call 505-292-1051 today to schedule a consultation or request an appointment. We look forward to helping relieve your TMJ disorder.

Contact our office today to schedule your appointment!

8400 Osuna Rd. NE, Suite 6A Albuquerque, NM 87111
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