Ronald Hawk DDS Cosmetic Dentistry in Boca Raton, FL

Temporomandibular Joint and Muscle DisordersGet Relief from Pain, Headaches, Soreness, Clicking and Other Symptoms of TMJ

Temporomandibular Joint and Muscle Disorders (TMJD), more commonly known as TMJ, can cause a wide variety of mild to severe symptoms, from jaw clicking and soreness to sharp pain and chronic headaches; it can also "lock" your jaw open or shut, or dislocate the jaw altogether. People with TMJ disorder may also experience muscle spasms in the neck, back or shoulders, hearing or vision difficulties and a wide range of other symptoms.

TMJ can be caused by physical trauma to the jaw, diseases such as arthritis, wear and tear due to aging, or habits like teeth clenching and grinding. Fortunately, there are several treatments available that can offer relief to TMJ sufferers.

Approximately 35 million people in the United States
suffer from problems related to TMJ

Symptoms of TMJ

Although pain is the most common symptom of TMJ, symptoms vary from one patient to another and can include the following:

  • Dull ache in the jaw joint and nearby areas, including the ear
  • Sharp pain in the temple, ear, jaw and teeth
  • Pain in the neck, back and shoulders
  • Migraine and/or chronic headache
  • Jaw muscle stiffness
  • Limited movement or locking of the jaw
  • Painful clicking, popping or grating in the jaw joint when opening or closing the mouth
  • A change in the way the upper and lower teeth fit together or a bite that feels "off"
  • Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
  • Ear pain
  • Decreased hearing
  • Dizziness and vision problems

If you experience any of the above symptoms, it is not wise to ignore them or attempt to cope with them on your own. The problems can get worse without warning, and permanent damage to the joint can result, which may require surgery.

Clenching and Grinding

Bruxism is the medical term for grinding or clenching your teeth. When this excess muscle activity occurs at night, it is called grinding; when it occurs during the daytime, it is called clenching. Grinding and clenching cause the muscles that control the jaw to be overworked. The muscles then get fatigued and go into spasm. That is when the pain begins. The exact cause of this overactive masseter muscle action is not precisely known, but it is usually attributed to stress or tension. Persistent grinding or clenching of teeth can cause TMJ. Tooth damage may also occur from the wear on the occlusal surfaces.

Treatment Options for TMJ

Traditional therapies for TMJ include night time splints to protect the teeth and medications that decrease inflammation in the muscle or cause it to relax through a sedative approach.

A bite splint, or night guard, is a custom-fit bite guard that significantly reduces and often eliminates the intensity of jaw clenching that leads many to suffer from headaches, migraine pain, or painful jaw joint problems. It is worn during sleep or whenever tension is felt in the jaw muscles, allowing the muscles to rest. There are different styles of night guards available.

The NTI Tension Suppression System (NTI-TSS) is a small transparent device made of flexible plastic, similar to a mouth guard. It is worn over the two front teeth to prevent contact of the canines and molars. By reducing the intensity of involuntary clenching at night while you're asleep (and even during the day if stress triggers unconscious involuntary clenching at work and home), the NTI-TSS device minimizes clenching intensity and, in time, minimizes intense clenching as the source of your pain.

Another treatment to consider is BOTOX. Repeated BOTOX injections in the masseter muscle can actually reduce the size of this large muscle over time, improving external appearance and reducing muscle-clenching pain symptoms.

Massage of the muscles, moist heat, and even physical therapy can also help.


To find out more about the different TMJ treatment options available, contact Hawk Dental Artistry today to schedule a complimentary cosmetic consultation.