Have Jaw Pain? Find Out if it’s TMJ or TMD Disorder, and How They Are Treated

male holding jaw in pain from tmj disorderYou dread every bite of food. It’s painful to speak or even kiss your spouse. You’re living with persistent jaw pain and stiffness. What is it and how can it be treated?

Nobody likes living in pain, nor is it enjoyable to be unable to easily do simple, easy tasks such as eating without discomfort.

If you suffer from jaw pain or stiffness, you may have temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ) or temporomandibular disorder. Both issues hinder the normal functioning of the jaws that can make eating, drinking, speaking, smiling, even breathing difficult and painful.

What is temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ) and temporomandibular disorder (TMD)?

TMJ is a problem with the joint that connects the upper and lower jaws. This complex jaw is a hinge that enables your jaw to move forward, backward and sideways. Patients with TMJ note their jaws are popping, clicking or getting stuck.

There is a broader form of temporandibular joint disorder called temporomandibular disorder (TMD). While TMJ is a malfunction of the joint between the upper and lower jaws, TMD is a malfunctioning of the muscles of the jaw and face.

There are multiple symptoms for temporomandibular joint disorder and temporomandibular disorder. Only a dentist can discern if the symptoms are those of TMJ. The common symptoms include:

  • Tenderness of jaw muscles
  • Pain in the face, jaw or ears
  • Stuck or “locked” jaws
  • Pain from widely opening the mouth (i.e. yawning or chewing)
  • Headaches
  • Earaches
  • Pressure behind the eyes
  • Clicking or popping sound when the mouth opens and closes
  • Swelling of the face

How is TMJ Treated?

There are many ways to treat temporomandibular disorder including medications, therapies and surgery. The least invasive treatment is always recommended. More invasive treatments may be recommended if the condition gets worse and is constant.

In many cases, TMJ is temporary and the pain and discomfort will go away on its own. To help ease the pain in the meantime, at-home, self-care is the most common treatment. Stress management and relaxation exercises are best to alleviate the pressure and tension on the jaws that can lead to pain.


Sometimes stress and relaxation exercises are not enough. Dentists can prescribe medications to help. The most common type of medications for TMJ relief include:

  • Pain relievers and anti-inflammatories
  • Tricyclic antidepressants
  • Muscle relaxants


Some patients don’t want to use medication, so therapy maybe the best option. Common therapies include:

  • Oral splints or mouth guards (occlusal appliances)
  • Physical therapy
  • Counseling and education

Surgical Treatments

In extreme cases, when all other treatment options are exhausted, surgery is recommended. When other methods don’t help, your doctor might suggest procedures such as:

  • TMJ arthroscopy.
  • Modified condylotomy.
  • Full-mouth restoration
  • Open-joint surgery.

Getting relief fast is important when you have TMJ or TMD. Home remedies are typically the first recommendation. If, however, your condition needs more intense treatment, the professionals at Smile Restorations can conveniently do in the office. You’ll need no additional visits so you can quickly get on your way to a life free of jaw pain.

If you’re tired of jaw pain getting in the way of enjoying life, call us today to schedule an appointment.