Understanding TMJ: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment Options

Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ) is a condition that affects the jaw joint and muscles controlling jaw movement. If we experience a click when we move our jaw, or perhaps some pain, we almost certainly have a form of TMJ. Usually, this is not serious, more of an inconvenience than a threat. But if the condition does grow worse over time we might have cause for concern, we should discuss the matter with our Burwood Dental Practice.

Symptoms of TMJ

Common symptoms associated with TMJ include:

• Jaw pain or tenderness, especially when chewing or speaking.
• Clicking, popping, or grating sounds in the jaw joint during movement.
• Difficulty or discomfort while opening or closing the mouth.
• Facial pain or soreness, particularly around the ears, jaw, or temples.
• Headaches or migraines, often concentrated in the temples or forehead region.
• Earaches or ringing in the ears (tinnitus).
• Locking of the jaw joint, making it difficult to open or close the mouth fully.

Causes of TMJ

TMJ can arise from various factors, including:

• Habitually biting and chewing with only one side of the mouth.
• Jaw injury or trauma
• Direct impact or injury to the jaw joint can lead to TMJ.
• Teeth grinding (bruxism)
• Habitual clenching or grinding of teeth, especially during sleep, can strain the jaw muscles and joints.
• Arthritis
• Degenerative joint diseases like osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis can affect the TMJ.
• Misaligned bite. An improper bite alignment or malocclusion can put undue stress on the jaw joint.
• Stress
• Emotional or psychological stress may cause individuals to clench their jaw muscles, contributing to TMJ symptoms.

Treatment Options for TMJ

Treatment for TMJ aims to alleviate symptoms and improve jaw function may include:

Developing good Eating Habits

Mild cases of TMJ may be caused by us habitually chewing with only one side of the mouth. Right-handed people usually chew on the right side. Left-handed people on the left. If we learn chew with the other side of the mouth we can reverse the damage. This may take a few months. Using sugar free chewing gum can help.

Physical Therapy

Exercises to stretch and strengthen the jaw muscles, as well as techniques like massage and heat therapy, can improve jaw mobility and reduce TMJ symptoms.

Self-care Measures

Practicing stress management techniques, avoiding hard or chewy foods, applying ice packs to the jaw, and maintaining good posture can help alleviate TMJ symptoms.

Oral Appliances

Dentists may prescribe mouthguards or splints to prevent teeth grinding and reduce jaw muscle tension.


Over-the-counter pain relievers, muscle relaxants, or anti-inflammatory drugs may provide temporary relief from TMJ-related pain and discomfort.

Dental Treatments

In cases of malocclusion or bite misalignment, orthodontic treatment or dental adjustments may be recommended to correct the underlying cause of TMJ.


In severe cases, corticosteroid injections directly into the jaw joint can help reduce inflammation and alleviate pain.


TMJ is a common condition that can significantly impact an individual’s quality of life if left untreated. By understanding the causes, symptoms, and available treatment options, individuals can take proactive steps to manage their TMJ symptoms effectively. If you’re experiencing any signs of TMJ, consult with our Dental Burwood clinic or a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis and personalized treatment plan.


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