What Is TMJ?

“TMJ” is an acronym for temporomandibular joint (i.e., the jaw bone). The temporomandibular joints are the joints that attach the lower jaw to the skull. They’re essential to daily jaw functions such as opening and closing your mouth, chewing, and speaking.

What Are TMJ Disorders?

TMJ disorders refer to conditions that cause pain in your jaw and jaw muscles, and limitations in your jaw’s ability to operate normally while speaking, eating, and swallowing.

What Causes TMJ Disorders?

The exact cause of your TMJ disorder can be difficult to determine. In 30 years of treating patients seen at Skoulas DDS, Dr. Skoulas believes that pain can occur due to a combination of factors, such as genetics, arthritis, teeth grinding during sleep, or jaw injury.

TMJ disorders are particularly common:

  • In arthritis patients
  • After severe trauma
  • After a car accident
  • When you clench your teeth
  • During pregnancy
  • What are the symptoms of TMJ?

The most common symptoms of TMJ are:

  • Frequent headaches
  • Uncomfortable bite
  • Pain in the neck, shoulders or back
  • Facial swelling
  • Pain in the face
  • Pain in the jaw joint or ear
  • Jaw locking
  • Restricted ability to open your mouth without pain

Not every TMJ patient has all of these symptoms. A combination of symptoms, or one extremely painful symptom can indicate TMJ. The best way to understand your symptoms and get an accurate diagnosis is to set up an appointment with Dr. Skoulas.

Simple Self Treatment Methods For TMJ

If you experience TMJ symptoms, you should immediately seek advice from a qualified dentist who can recommend courses of treatment ranging from symptom alleviation to surgery. In the meantime, you can try some of these techniques to help control your pain:

  • Pay attention to when you clench your jaw. Clenching is a common reaction to stressful situations, so learn to relax the jaw and remember: “Lips together, teeth apart”.
  • If you notice swelling in your jaw, wear an ice pack for 10 minutes to reduce inflammation. For chronic inflammation, you can alternate between ice and heat packs.
  • Choose soft foods that are easy to chew.
  • Don’t chew gum.
  • Exercise regularly to reduce pain and release tension.
  • Avoid opening your mouth wide.
  • Wear a night guard, avoid the store-bought sports guards.

What Is The Best Treatment For TMJ?

In most cases, the pain and discomfort associated with TMJ disorders is temporary and Dr. Skoulas can alleviate your pain with a conservative treatment plan. For more complicated cases of TMJ pain, she can collaborate with a network of specialists to alleviate your symptoms with customized dental appliances.

If you’re experiencing symptoms of TMJ and want to learn more about your treatment options, call to schedule a consultation today or request an appointment online.

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Dr. Antigone Skoulas San Francisco

SF dentist Dr. Antigone Skoulas prioritizes patient comfort, efficiency, and quality care.

She ensures that those under her treatment understand their options and have confidence in their procedures, and she adds to the capabilities of our SF practice through her professional development as a dentist and the knowledge of her staff.

About Dr. Skoulas