TMJ Disorders

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) connects the jawbone to the skull. TMJ disorders often cause discomfort in the cheek, jaw, or ear areas and can affect normal jaw function.

What good are healthy teeth and gums if your jaw is constantly sore? If you are experiencing discomfort in your jaw or are suffering from constant headaches, you may be experiencing TMD, also known as Temporomandibular Dysfunction. Obtaining treatment and understanding this condition is a must in order for a patient to achieve total oral health. Dr. Coughlin completed a two year program at Tufts School of Dental Medicine at the Gelb Pain Clinic which specializes in the treatment of TMJ disorders.

TMJ conditions fall into three main categories:

  • Myofacial Pain
    • Discomfort or pain in the muscles that control jaw function (Grinding your teeth can result in this type of TMJ disorder.)
  • Internal Derangement of the Joint
    • A possible indicator of a displaced disc, dislocated jaw, or injury to the condyle.
  • Arthritis
    • A degenerative inflammatory disorder.

Signs and symptoms of TMJ disorders are frequently intensified by stress and can include:

  • Headaches
  • Soreness in the cheek or jaw area
  • Pain in or around the ears
  • Facial pain
  • Tight jaws
  • Popping or clicking sounds when opening mouth
  • Locking of the jaw
  • Difficulty chewing

In less severe cases, TMJ disorders can be treated with self-managed care (eating soft foods, using ice packs, avoiding extreme jaw movement) or nonsurgical treatments (anti-inflammatory medications, BOTOX® injections, or stabilization splints). In more severe cases, surgical treatments (jaw joint replacements) may be necessary.