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What is TMJ?

Temporomandibular joint disorders (abbreviated as TMD or TMJ for short) is a group of problems that can cause pain and poor function in the jaw joint, as well as the muscles responsible for jaw movement.

The severity of TMJ can range from being unpleasant to severe. On the less serious side, pain can shoot through the jaw joint when biting down on a hard piece of food. It is definitely uncomfortable, but it can be managed with simple home care until the pain subsides.

With severe TMJ, it can be completely life changing. Everyday, tasks like eating and talking can become incredibly difficult. In some cases, you may wake up and the jaw joint has slipped out of place during sleep. The mouth may not open more than 10 millimeters (a normal mouth can open 50 millimeters or so).

TMJ may affect over 10 million Americans, with women being affected more often than men.

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What are the symptoms of TMJ?

When TMJ acts up, common symptoms include:

How is TMJ treated?

There is a wide range of treatment options available to help those who are suffering due to TMJ. Dentists recommend starting with more conservative methods before jumping to the conclusion that injections or surgery are needed.

Some basic treatments include:

If basic treatments aren’t effective or are not providing enough relief, dentists may suggest:

When none of these options are successful, it is time to look into surgery. There are several types of surgery including arthrocentesis, arthroscopy, and open-joint surgery. The type of surgery will depend on the type of TMJ problem.


Your dentist has many therapy options to try before surgery should be considered. If you suspect you have symptoms of TMJ, talk to your dentist.

Call us at (301) 989-0088 to schedule an appointment!