TMJ Treatment in Wesley Chapel

Pointing to the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) on a model school

Luz Hernandez DDS provides TMJ treatment in Wesley Chapel, FL. Call 813-994-8999 to learn more and schedule your appointment.

On each side of your jaw, there are temporomandibular joints that connect it to the skull. Often shortened to TMJ, these joints act as sliding hinges whenever you open or close your mouth. When the joints function as they should, you probably don’t give them a second thought, but when they cause chronic pain, it can have an impact on your overall quality of life.

This type of chronic TMJ pain is called TMJ disorder, or TMD. TMD is sometimes difficult to diagnose because the symptoms aren’t always straightforward—while jaw pain is most common, you may also experience TMJ pain as headaches or earaches. In addition to being difficult to diagnose, TMD can be hard to treat because it has a number of potential causes, each with its own treatment approach. This is why it’s important to find a dentist who specializes in TMJ disorders.

Types of TMJ Pain

There are three main categories of TMJ pain. These include:

  • Myofascial pain – Myofascial pain originates in the muscles surrounding the temporomandibular joints. Common causes include teeth grinding and jaw clenching, often aggravated by stress.
  • Internal derangement of the joint – An injury that dislocates the jaw, displaces a disc, or injures the condyle may cause TMJ pain related to the internal derangement of the joint.
  • Arthritis – Just as arthritis affects other joints throughout the body, it can affect the TMJ. When TMJ disorder is caused by arthritis, we can work with your rheumatologist to address both the cause and the symptoms of your TMD.

Symptoms of TMJ Disorder

Patients with TMJ disorder usually have some combination of the following symptoms:

  • Headaches
  • Facial tenderness, especially around the jaw and cheeks
  • Pain or feelings of fullness in or around the ears
  • Jaw tightness
  • Popping and clicking sounds when eating or opening the mouth
  • Locking of the jaw
  • Difficulty chewing

Treatment of TMJ Disorder

In less severe cases TMJ disorders can be treated with self-managed care (eating soft foods, using ice packs, avoiding extreme jaw movement) or nonsurgical treatments (anti-inflammatory medications, Botox injections, or stabilization splints). In severe cases surgical treatments (jaw joint replacements) may be necessary.

Learn more about Treatment of TMJ Disorder with BOTOX®/XEOMIN®

Frequently Asked Questions About TMJ Disorder

How do you fix TMJ?

Treating TMJ pain depends on diagnosing the underlying cause of your TMD. For example, if your pain is triggered by jaw clenching while you sleep, your treatment will be different from a patient whose pain is caused by arthritis. Some common TMD treatments include stabilization splints (also known as night guards), Botox injections, physical therapy, and prescription medications to relax muscles and reduce inflammation. Self-managed care, like switching to a soft food diet during flare-ups and using ice packs, can be effective as well.

Can TMJ go away on its own?

Yes, for some patients, TMJ pain does resolve on its own, particularly when it’s caused by an injury or a stressful period in your life. If your pain is persistent and interferes with your quality of life, it’s important to seek care to prevent lasting damage to the joints.

How can I fix my TMJ without surgery?

The good news about TMD treatment is that surgery is rarely needed or advised—it’s considered a last resort, usually used only in cases where a joint has suffered severe damage and must be surgically repaired. The first step in treating TMJ is with self-managed care at home; if this doesn’t help, medication, Botox, and stabilization splints are all non-surgical options that can help relieve your pain without surgery.

How do night guards for TMJ work?

Night guards (or stabilization splints) work by preventing patients from grinding their teeth and clenching their jaws while they sleep. They relax tense jaw muscles to reduce inflammation and pain.

Does stress make TMJ worse?

Yes, although stress does not directly cause TMJ pain, it can be a trigger for many patients. Stress causes muscle tension, jaw clenching, and teeth grinding, which in turn causes TMJ pain.