What is TMJ and how do you treat it?

TMJ or temporomandibular joint disorder occurs as a result of problems with the jaw, jaw joint, and surrounding facial muscles. Pain in the jaw may be excruciating and in some cases, TMJ may go away on its own without any treatment. However, if symptoms persist, your doctor or dentist may recommend some treatment options that could relieve the pain.


Signs and symptoms of TMJ may include:

  • Pain or tenderness in your jaw
  • Pain in your neck and shoulders
  • Pain in and around your ear
  • Swelling on the side of your face
  • Difficulty chewing or pain while chewing
  • Locking of the joint, making it difficult to open and close your mouth

Risk Factors and Causes

It’s frustrating when you have symptoms of TMJ but don’t know what causes it. Your doctor or dentist may not know what’s causing TMJ, however, painful TMJ can occur because of an injury or stress.

TMJ disorder can occur under the following situations:

  • Chronic teeth grinding or clenching
  • Jaw injury like whiplash or a heavy blow
  • Disc erosion in the jaw
  • Stress or anxiety


 You can start treating pain caused by TMJ using home remedies such as practicing self-care. You can start by avoiding eating tough and chewy food like peanuts and chewing gum and opt for soft, non-chewy food. Take over-the-counter pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medicine like ibuprofen to lessen the swelling on your jaw and relieve you of some pain. In the case of swelling, try placing a cold pack on your jaw when needed.

If you have exhausted all your home remedies and the pain persists, your doctor or dentist may give you other treatment options:

  • Pain medication
  • Mouth guards
  • Surgery
  • Physical Therapy

As you continue to understand your symptoms, make sure to take care of yourself at home. Make an appointment with one of our Altima dentists near you to get fitted with a mouth guard, especially if you notice that you are constantly grinding or clenching your teeth, to protect your teeth and relieve you from pain caused by TMJ. Altima Dental has TMJ specialists in Toronto, Mississauga, Hamilton, Brockville and Scarborough.

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