Understanding TMJ: Causes, Symptoms, and Your Path to Recovery

TMJ, commonly referred to as a temporomandibular joint, connects the jaw to the skull, using the temporal bones which are found in front of the ears. Everyone has two temporomandibular joints which allow us to open and close our mouths when eating, speaking, or swallowing. Disorders associated with this area are referred to as temporomandibular disorders (TMD), and if you're noticing severe pain or discomfort in your jaw, neck, or face, it could be a sign of TMD.

What causes TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint) Disorders?

There are a lot of theories for the causes of this disorder. Some dentists believe that TMD can be caused by issues related to the jaw muscle or other defective parts of the joint itself. Other reasons that could contribute to TMD include:

  • Bad habits such as grinding or clenching teeth
  • Stress and anxiety often make people tighten their jaw or clench their teeth
  • A physical injury such as a heavy blow to the neck or head can also damage the joint
  • Arthritis in the TMJ
  • When the disc between the ball and the socket of the TMJ moves

Common Symptoms of TMJ Disorders

TMD can manifest through various symptoms, making it crucial to recognize and address them promptly. Some of the most common symptoms associated with TMJ disorders include:

  • Pain in the head, face, ear, neck, throat, shoulder, and/or back
  • Difficulty in talking, chewing or opening the mouth
  • Clicking or popping sounds from the jaw joints
  • Headaches, toothaches, neck aches, dizziness, earaches, and tinnitus (ringing in the ear)
  • Limited movement of the jaw
  • Vertigo

Treatment for TMJ Disorders

Treatment for TMJ disorders can vary depending on the severity and underlying causes of the condition. Here are some common treatment options for TMJ:

Self-Care and Lifestyle Changes

  • Rest your jaw by avoiding excessive chewing or biting hard foods
  • Maintain good posture to reduce strain on your jaw
  • Avoid clenching or grinding your teeth
  • Apply heat or cold packs to the affected area
  • Practice relaxation techniques to reduce stress, as stress can exacerbate TMJ symptoms


  • Over-the-counter pain relievers (e.g., ibuprofen or acetaminophen) can help alleviate pain and inflammation
  • Muscle relaxants can be prescribed in some cases to relieve muscle tension

Physical Therapy

  • A physical therapist can teach you exercises to improve jaw mobility and reduce pain.

Dental Treatments

  • Dental splints or mouthguards can help reduce clenching and grinding, protecting the teeth and jaw
  • Orthodontic treatments may be recommended to correct bite issues that contribute to TMJ disorders

Stress Management

  • Stress reduction techniques such as meditation, biofeedback, or counselling can be beneficial, as stress can exacerbate TMJ symptoms.

The treatment plan for each patient is developed individually, according to the patient's needs. It's important to consult with your dentist for an accurate diagnosis and to determine the most appropriate treatment plan for your specific case. Contact us today to schedule a consultation!


1141 Lawrence Avenue West Toronto, Ontario, (416) 785-8586
Lawrence West Dental ©  : Our Policies

Lawrence West Dental Home Our Services Our Office Contact Us