TMJ Disorder Treatments

TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint, which is the name for each joint (right and left) that connects your jaw to your skull. These disorders occur when the joints of the jaw and the chewing muscles do not work together correctly.  Since some types of TMJ problems can lead to more serious conditions, early detection and treatment are important.

Trouble With Your Jaw?

TMJ disorders develop for many reasons. You might clench or grind your teeth, tightening your jaw muscles and stressing your joint. You may have a damaged jaw joint due to injury or disease. Injuries and arthritis can damage the joint directly.  A piece of cartilage is located on top of the TMJ and moves with the joint as you open and close your mouth. The disk can slip out of position and cause clicking or popping noises in addition to pain on occasion. Problems with your disc may cause your jaw to lock open or closed making it difficult to open or close your mouth.

Do You Have a TMJ Disorder?

  • Are you aware of grinding or clenching your teeth?
  • Do you wake up with sore, stiff muscles around your jaws?
  • Do you have frequent headaches?
  • Does the pain get worse when you clench your teeth?
  • Does stress make your clenching and pain worse?
  • Does your jaw click, pop, grate, catch, or lock when you open your mouth?
  • Is it difficult or painful to open your mouth, eat, or yawn?
  • Have you ever injured your neck, head, or jaws?
  • Have you had problems (such as arthritis) with other joints?
  • Do you have teeth that no longer touch when you bite?
  • Do your teeth meet differently from time to time?

The more times you answered “yes”, the more likely it is that you have a TMJ disorder. Understanding TMJ disorders will also help you understand how they are treated.


There are various treatment options that your Surgeon can utilize to improve the harmony and function of your jaw. Once an evaluation confirms a diagnosis of TMJ disorder, the doctor will determine the proper course of treatment.

A splint (or night guard) fits over your top or bottom teeth and helps keep your teeth apart, thereby relaxing the muscles, repositioning your TMJ and reducing pain. There are different types of appliances used for different purposes. A night guard helps you stop clenching or grinding your teeth and reduces muscle tension at night. It also helps to protect the cartilage and joint surfaces.

A soft diet is also a important step to begin with as you are experiencing symptoms with you joint.

In addition certain patients respond well to over the counter anti-inflammatory medications, such as Ibuprofen, and sometimes the use of muscle relaxants are beneficial. Using a physical therapist or chiropractor is beneficial to certain patients who have a TMJ disorder. These therapies will treat certain  disorders which can be interrelated to TMJ problems. Stress reduction also helps with the recovery of TMJ issues. The majority of patients with TMJ disorders respond well to these nonsurgical management strategies, but this takes time and effort on your behalf.

There are certain patients who do not respond well to these non surgical approaches and over time may require a surgical procedure to alleviate their TMJ disorder. Our Surgeons have treated numerous TMJ patients with arthroscopic surgery, arthocentesis, arthroplasty, and total temporomandibular joint reconstruction.

Arthrocentesis – This is a minimally invasive procedure that can be performed in our office. It involves lysis and lavage within the temporomandibular joint, which is the washing and manipulation of the joint under intravenous anesthesia. Steroids are placed directly into the joint space thus reducing inflammation of the TMJ.

Arthroscopic Surgery – This procedure is performed through a small instrument with a tiny camera attached. This too, involves lysis and lavage of the joint and in some cases, repositioning of a displaced disc.

Arthroplasty – This procedure is performed by making an incision in a skin crease in front of the ear. This procedure is normally aimed at repairing or repositioning a displaced disc but sometimes can result in the removal of the disc (menisectomy).

Temporomandibular Joint Reconstruction — Is a option for certain patients that need their TMJ replaced due to arthritic conditions or for patients still experiencing pain and or dysfunction of their jaw joint that has failed to resolve despite multiple surgical procedures. This procedure has also been utilized by our Surgeons for patients who have traumatized their jaw joint in a manner that could not be repaired surgically and in patients whom have had benign and malignant tumors of their TMJ requiring removal.