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

Donato A. Valente DDS, PC provides TMJ treatment in Yorktown Heights, NY. Call 914-962-2828 to learn more and schedule your appointment.

TMJ Disorder

The temporomandibular joint, or TMJ, is the joint that connects your skull to your jawbone, acting as a sliding hinge whenever you open and close your mouth. It’s not a joint we think about often––until it starts causing pain, that is.

When the TMJ causes chronic pain, it’s called TMJ disorder (TMD) or TMJ syndrome. This disorder can cause significant pain and even impact a patient’s quality of life. This is because, while the TMJ is a small joint, its location is near sensitive tissue, which is why it can cause an outsized amount of pain.

Symptoms of TMD include:

  • Pain in the face, jaw, and temporomandibular joints
  • Malocclusion, often leading to tooth damage
  • Earaches and tinnitus
  • Migraines and chronic headaches
  • Pain, clicking, and popping of the jaw when eating, yawning, or opening the mouth for any other reason
  • Lockjaw
  • Swelling in the face, particularly in the areas surrounding the joints
  • Muscle tension in the upper shoulders and neck

Treatment for TMD can be difficult, which is why seeing a prosthodontist is recommended. Dr. Valente has specialized training in the anatomy of the jaw, giving him the knowledge to diagnose and treat TMJ disorder. By influencing the jaw to move properly, symptoms can be relieved and tooth damage can be prevented.

Frequently Asked Questions About TMJ Disorder

How do you fix TMJ?

The best way to fix TMJ disorder is to start with a solid diagnosis that identifies the underlying cause of the pain. TMJ pain caused by arthritis or injury to the joint requires a different type of treatment than TMJ pain caused by teeth grinding brought on by stress. Understanding the origin of TMJ pain allows us to put together an effective treatment plan.

What can a dentist do for TMJ?

One of the most effective options for TMJ pain is a splint or night guard that prevents teeth grinding and jaw clenching, allowing the jaw muscles to relax overnight to relieve the tension that causes TMJ pain.

What is the difference between TMJ and TMD?

Everyone has TMJ—it stands for temporomandibular joints, which are the two joints that connect the jawbone to the skull. When these joints cause pain, it’s called TMD, which stands for temporomandibular joint disorder. This distinction is important in dentistry, but most people who aren’t dentists use TMJ and TMD interchangeably.

How serious is TMJ?

TMJ pain can have a significant impact on your quality of life when it causes chronic pain that affects your ability to eat and sleep. When TMD is caused by degeneration in the joint, it can eventually require surgery if left untreated.

Does TMJ go away?

For some patients, TMJ pain is temporary; for others, the pain comes and goes, usually brought on by times of stress. If you experience ongoing pain in the temporomandibular joints, it’s important to get an evaluation and treatment to prevent permanent damage to the joint.

Can TMJ trigger migraines?

Yes, TMJ pain and migraines are closely linked. If you suffer from chronic migraines and also experience one or more of the TMD symptoms listed above, you may have TMD. Treating your TMD might relieve your migraines too. Other types of headaches can be triggered by TMD as well.

Is TMJ medical or dental?

TMD is both medical and dental, but it’s best to get your diagnosis from a dentist, as we have more experience diagnosing and treating jaw disorders. Some types of TMJ pain, like joint degeneration caused by arthritis, is best treated in conjunction with a medical doctor, while other types can be treated by a dentist.

Call 914-962-2828 to schedule your appointment.