What Is TMJ?

a dental patient suffering from tmj disorder

TMJ Disorder

Temporomandibular Joint Disorder affects a vast majority of the population and it occurs when both sides of the patient’s mouth around the jaw area begin to experience discomfort. Specifically, this kind of discomfort would include pain while chewing as well as a stiffness or tightness when trying to speak. We utilize advanced technology to examine and diagnose our patients and determine whether or not they have TMJ disorder in Falls Church, VA.


What Causes TMJ?

TMJ is caused by different things and it really depends on the person, this is why it’s very important that you get a full evaluation before you’re diagnosed and treated. Some causes of TMJ are listed below:

  • Jaw & teeth misalignment (Malocclusion)
  • Having poor posture
  • Having major Arthritis
  • Being under intense stress
  • Excessive gum chewing
  • Injury to jaw or teeth
  • Constant teeth grinding
  • Bruxism


Do you grind your or clench your teeth during the day or even at night? You may not realize it, but you may be experiencing an issue called bruxism. Signs and symptoms of bruxism can include:

  • Chipped or cracked teeth
  • Facial pain
  • Locking of the jaw
  • A popping or clicking in the temporomandibular joint (TMJ)
  • Tongue indentations


If left unattended, bruxism can lead to temporomandibular joint disorder, also known as TMJD. Symptoms of can include pain or swelling in your face or neck area, trouble chewing, or feel discomfort in your jaw area when eating. This disorder is most common among people between the ages of 20 and 40. Additional symptoms of TMJD can include: jaw popping and stiffness, migraines, misaligned teeth, eye pain, and ear aches. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, be sure to visit a dentist to get evaluated for a specific treatment plan to address this issue.


Most patients who are dealing with TMJ disorder can have it for many years before they every realize that they are suffering from it. Also, most patients only discover that they are suffering from it once jaw pain starts to set in. Also, TMJD can cause facial pain, headaches, dizziness, earaches, shoulder pain, and toothaches, typically due to the occurrence of chronic teeth grinding or clenching.


How Are TMJ Issues Treated?

There are many ways to treat TMJD, professionally and at home. Here is a list of many treatments that you may be able to pursue:

Behavior Changes.

A dentist may show you different techniques to control your tongue and teeth movements throughout the day.

A Mouthguard.

A plastic mouthguard that you can wear at night to absorb the force of biting and reduce further teeth damage may be given to you. These are often worn at night but can also be made for the daytime to protect your teeth whenever you clench or grind them.

Similar to a sports guard, these oral appliances are made to form a barrier between your top and bottom teeth. Made specifically for you, they will fit snuggly over your teeth. Each oral appliance is made to protect your teeth while also helping your jaw move into a more relaxed position. A dentist can custom fit you for a mouthguard that will be the best option for you.


Some medicines may be helpful in regulating the neurotransmitters. Changing medicines may be needed if antidepressant medicines are found to be the cause of bruxism.

Dental work can also be a valuable way to address TMJD situations. For instance, if the bite is misaligned, dental work to bring it into alignment can relieve pressure on the jaw joint. The type of dental work recommended will vary from patient to patient.

Dental Work

As mentioned above, having a misaligned bite can cause undue stress on your jaw joints. Finding occlusal equilibrium can sometimes be as easy as altering a few tooth surfaces. We’ll help your teeth come together harmoniously in its rested state with an occlusal adjustment. By strategically removing a small amount of tooth enamel in one or more areas of your mouth we can reduce jaw pain and the grinding and clenching that’s causing it.


Are You Looking For TMJ Treatment?

TMJD can be a significant disruptor of life due to associated symptoms of discomfort, pain, and irritated jaws. Getting treatment to fix this issue is very important for those that may suffer from TMJD. This is another reason why it is so important to make sure that you get in contact with the best dental professional that is knowledgeable about this issue and will guide you to the best treatment option for you to help protect your teeth from any additional damage.


If you are exhibiting any of the above symptoms and you feel as though you may be suffering from Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJD) then you should call Dr Gouldin and the amazing team at Northern Virginia Periodontics in Falls Church, VA now to get started!


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