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If you’ve been experiencing pain in your jaw or the sounds of griding when you open and close your mouth, you may be experiencing the signs and symptoms of what’s called TMJ. Most cases of TMJ can be relieved with conservative or non-surgical treatments, which is why it’s important to see your doctor, dentist or TMJ specialist to discuss your symptoms and potential treatment options if you do have TMJ. Here, we take a deeper look at TMJ and effective treatments for this disorder.

Defining TMJ

TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint but commonly refers to the disorder associated with it. TMJ syndrome is a disorder of the jaw muscles and nerves usually caused by injury or inflammation to the TMJ. The joint is like a sliding hinge on both sides of your jaw that connects your jawbone to your skull.


Symptoms of TMJ are usually around the jaw area and include pain, swelling, lockjaw, and the sounds of grinding, popping or clicking when you open or shut your mouth. Other symptoms that can be associated with TMJ include eye pain or pressure, a ringing in the ear, generalized facial pain, neck and shoulder pain, backaches, chronic headaches and postural changes. Patients may also complain of difficulty chewing or pain when chewing.


Arthritis damage, trauma to the face or the small disk eroding or moving out of alignment are the main known causes of TMJ. Often, the exact cause isn’t clear, but chronic teeth griding or clenching or certain connective tissue disorders can increase the risk of developing TMJ.


Once diagnosed, TMJ will be initially treated based on your unique situation. Prescription or over-the-counter medication and muscle exercises may be indicated. A custom orthotic can reposition your bit and relieve pressure on the temporomandibular joint. Transcutaneous Electrical Neural Stimulation (TENS) therapy can help relax the muscles in the head and neck. Long-term relief can be found in a long-term neuromuscular orthotic, orthodontic treatment or full mouth restoration.

Contact our Northern Virginia Dentists

Please call 703-214-3182 to schedule an appointment at Arlington Dental Aesthetics or 703-214-3186 for an appointment at South Riding Smiles. We serve patients in Arlington, South Riding and throughout Northern Virginia.

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Have a question? Reach out today!

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