TMJ Disorder: What Is It, What Are the Symptoms, and How Is It Treated?

TMJ Disorder: What Is It, What Are the Symptoms, and How Is It Treated?

Jul 01, 2021

Have you noticed that there is a popping or clicking sound whenever you speak or open your mouth? Or do you feel pain around the ear when you open your mouth or when chewing? Most probably, you might be scratching your head, wondering what’s wrong. Unfortunately, there’s a very high probability that your temporomandibular joint is out of whack!

The temporomandibular joint, also known as TMJ, connects your skull to your jawbone. If there is temporomandibular joint dysfunction, you might find simple tasks such as chewing, yawning, and even talking daunting. The good news is that we have TMJ disorder treatment in Brookline.

Understanding Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction

Inasmuch as the term temporomandibular joint is a mouthful, the joint plays a critical role. On either side of your face or jaw, you have a joint that works like a sliding hinge. The TMJ connects your skull to your jaw, enabling you to move your jaw from side to side, up and down. In other words, you can eat, talk, and even yawn.

However, if you have an issue with the muscles controlling the jaw, it can lead to a condition referred to as temporomandibular disorders (TMD). This is what you might hear people mistakenly refer to as TMJ.

What Causes TMD?

TMJ disorder can arise due to a plethora of issues. However, in most cases, the exact cause of TMD is not known. Some of the causes of TMD may include:

Intra-Articular Causes

  • Internal derangement. This refers to the structural changes in the TMJ.
  • Hypermobility. This means that there is excessive movement of the TMJ, which causes the clicking sounds when you open your mouth. In some cases, you may feel pain.
  • Inflammatory conditions. Inflammatory conditions happen because of direct trauma such as a direct blow to the jaw or indirect trauma such as heavy chewing, teeth grinding, and clenching of the jaw.
  • Arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis, infectious arthritis, or degenerative arthritis can affect your TMJ.

Extra-Articular Causes

  • Muscle spasms which can limit jaw movement.
  • Fractures. These can happen at the line of fusion of the halves of the jaw, referred to as the mandibular symphysis.

Symptoms of TMD

For most people, the symptoms may last for a few days and go away on their own. Others may experience them a bit longer and can last even several years. Pain is one of the glaring symptoms that you can experience. However, here are some of TMJ disorder symptoms:

  • Pain around the ear when you yawn, speak, or open your mouth.
  • Trouble chewing.
  • Tenderness or pain in your neck, face, jaw, or shoulders.
  • Popping, grating, or clicking sounds when you chew or open your mouth.
  • Difficulty opening your mouth.
  • A tired feeling on your face.
  • Swelling on the jaw or side of your face.
  • Uncomfortable bite.
  • Jaws that get stuck in either the closed or open positions.

You might hear the clicking, grating, or popping sounds without limitations of movement or pain in some cases. When this happens, you may not need TMJ disorder treatment in Brookline.

How Is TMD Treated?

When you are lucky, you will experience the symptoms only for a few days, and they will varnish without any treatment. However, if this is not the case, our dentist may begin with:

Medical Treatment

Our dentist may prescribe the following medications to help alleviate the pain:

  • Muscle relaxants. These drugs are used to ease the pain caused by muscle spasms.
  • Pain relievers and anti-inflammatory drugs. If painkillers from your local drug store cannot give you relief, then our dentist will prescribe another potent pain killer for a limited time.
  • Tricyclic antidepressants. These drugs are primarily used to treat depression. However, our dentist may prescribe them to control bruxism and relieve pain.


Our dentist may recommend the following therapies along with the medication listed above:

  • Oral splints or mouthguards that you can find at our dentist’s office.
  • Physical therapy. This can be done by a physiotherapist who can give you massage and stretch techniques that can strengthen your jaw.


If the symptoms are not subsiding after using the above strategies, surgery becomes the next viable option. Our dentist may perform the following TMJ procedures:

  • Open joint surgery.
  • TMJ arthroscopy.
  • Injections.
  • Arthrocentesis.
  • Modified condylotomy.

Pain caused by TMD can be debilitating. Contact us at Brookline Oral Surgery Group for TMJ disorder treatment in Brookline.

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