How TMJ Disorder Affects Your Oral Health: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment Options?

Are you experiencing jaw pain or difficulty opening your mouth? You may suffer from a common temporomandibular joint disorder or TMJ disorder. This condition affects the joint that connects the jawbone to the skull and can result in various symptoms that impact oral health.  

TMJ disorder can be caused by various factors, including dental problems like teeth grinding, stress, injury, or arthritis. These factors can lead to inflammation or damage in the joint, resulting in symptoms like pain or tenderness in the jaw, difficulty opening or closing the mouth, and clicking or popping sounds when opening or closing the mouth.  

If left untreated, TMJ disorder can have severe consequences for your oral health, including worn or broken teeth, a misaligned bite, and gum recession. That's why it's essential to understand the causes and symptoms of TMJ disorder and the various treatment options available to manage the condition and prevent further damage to your oral health. In this blog post, we'll explore the impact of TMJ disorder on oral health and discuss how you can address this condition to maintain a healthy smile.  

What is Temporomandibular joint disorder?   

TMJ disorder is a condition that affects the temporomandibular joint, which connects the jawbone to the skull. This joint is responsible for many movements, including talking, chewing, and yawning. When the joint becomes damaged or inflamed, it can result in various symptoms that can impact oral health.  

What causes Temporomandibular joint disorder?  

A range of dental and non-dental factors can cause TMJ disorder. In some cases, dental problems like teeth grinding, misaligned teeth, or jaw clenching can put excessive pressure on the temporomandibular joint, causing inflammation or damage. Other dental causes of TMJ disorder can include trauma to the jaw, arthritis, or periodontal disease.  

Non-dental factors can also contribute to TMJ disorder. Stress and anxiety can cause you to clench your jaw or grind your teeth, putting excessive strain on the joint. Other factors, such as poor posture or a genetic predisposition, can also increase your risk of developing TMJ disorder.  

It's important to note that some cases of TMJ disorder may have no clear cause. However, understanding the potential factors contributing to this condition can help you identify and manage your symptoms.  

If you're experiencing TMJ disorder symptoms, consult your dentist or healthcare provider to determine the underlying cause and develop an appropriate treatment plan. In the next section, we'll explore the various symptoms of TMJ disorder and how it can impact your oral health.  

Symptoms of TMJ disorder   

TMJ disorder can cause various symptoms affecting the teeth, jaw, and mouth. The most common symptoms of TMJ disorder include:  

  • Pain or tenderness in the jaw  
  • Difficulty opening or closing the mouth 
TMJ disorder
  •  Clicking or popping sounds when opening or closing the mouth  
  • Headaches, earaches, or neck pain
  • Aching pain in or around the ear  
  • Tiredness or fatigue in the jaw muscles  
  • Facial pain  

TMJ disorder can also have a range of effects on your teeth and bite. Teeth grinding or clenching associated with TMJ disorder can cause wear and tears on the teeth, leading to chipped, cracked, or broken teeth. Misalignment of the jaw can also affect how your teeth come together, leading to a misaligned bite.  

Additionally, TMJ disorder can impact your oral health by causing gum recession, leading to tooth sensitivity and other dental problems.  

If you're experiencing these symptoms, you must speak with your dentist or healthcare provider to determine if TMJ disorder is the underlying cause. Early diagnosis and treatment can help prevent further damage to your oral health and alleviate your symptoms.  

Diagnosing TMJ Disorder  

Diagnosing TMJ disorder can be challenging because symptoms can overlap with other conditions. Your dentist or healthcare provider will begin with a thorough dental exam, a review of your dental and medical history, and a physical exam of your jaw and muscles.  

During the exam, they will look for tenderness or discomfort in the jaw and check for clicking, popping, or grating sounds when you open and close your mouth. They may also assess your bite and look for signs of misalignment or unusual wear and tear on your teeth.  

Imaging tests such as X-rays, CT scans, or MRI scans may be ordered to examine your jaw joint and surrounding structures closely. Other diagnostic methods that doctor use include electromyography (EMG) or arthroscopy.  

If you're experiencing TMJ disorder symptoms, you must speak with your healthcare provider for early diagnosis and treatment.  

Treatment Options for TMJ Disorder  

Various treatment options are available for TMJ disorder, ranging from self-care measures to professional care. The most appropriate treatment for you will depend on the severity of your symptoms and the underlying cause of your condition.  

Self-care measures that may help alleviate TMJ disorder symptoms include:  

  1. Applying heat or cold packs to the affected area  
  2. Eating soft foods and avoiding hard, chewy, or crunchy foods  
  3. Avoiding extreme jaw movements such as wide yawning or gum chewing  
  4. Practicing relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or meditation  
  5. Maintaining good posture and avoiding activities that strain your neck and shoulders  

If your symptoms persist despite self-care measures, your dentist or healthcare provider may recommend professional treatment options, such as:  

  • Oral appliances: Custom-fitted oral appliances, such as splints or mouthguards, can help relieve pressure on the jaw joint and improve your bite.  
  • Physical therapy: Exercises to stretch and strengthen the jaw muscles can help reduce pain and improve jaw function.  
  • Medications: Over-the-counter pain relievers or muscle relaxants can help alleviate pain and muscle tension. In some cases, your healthcare provider may prescribe stronger medications.
  • Injections: Corticosteroid injections directly into the jaw joint can help reduce inflammation and pain.  
  • Surgery: In rare cases, surgery may be necessary to repair or replace the jaw joint.  

Dental Solutions for TMJ Disorder: Oral Appliances, Braces, and More  

TMJ disorder can have a significant impact on your dental health. Fortunately, several dental solutions can help alleviate symptoms and improve jaw function.  

One standard dental solution for TMJ disorder is the use of oral appliances. Custom-fitted oral appliances, such as splints or mouthguards, can help relieve pressure on the jaw joint and improve your bite. Depending on your needs, your dentist may recommend a hard or soft appliance or a combination. You may need to wear the appliance several hours a day or night while sleeping.  

Orthodontic treatment, such as braces or aligners, can also effectively treat TMJ disorder. By correcting misalignment or bite issues, orthodontic treatment can improve jaw function and reduce strain on the jaw joint. Your orthodontist can evaluate your specific needs and determine your best treatment approach.  

In some cases, dentists recommend dental restorations such as crowns, bridges, or implants to restore the natural balance of your bite and reduce stress on the jaw joint.  

Preventing Dental Complications of TMJ Disorder  

While various treatment options are available for TMJ disorder, prevention is always the best medicine. Maintaining good oral health can reduce your risk of developing dental complications associated with TMJ disorder.  

Here are some tips for preventing dental complications of TMJ disorder:  

  • Practice good oral hygiene: Brush your teeth twice daily and floss daily to keep your teeth and gums healthy. This can help prevent tooth decay and gum disease, which can exacerbate TMJ disorder symptoms.  
  • Avoid teeth grinding: If you grind your teeth at night, talk to your dentist about getting a custom-fitted mouthguard to protect your teeth and reduce pressure on the jaw joint.  
  • Eat a healthy diet: Choose foods that are soft and easy to chew, and avoid hard, crunchy, or chewy foods that can aggravate TMJ disorder symptoms. Eating a balanced diet rich in vitamins and minerals can also help support good oral health.  
  • Practice good posture: Poor posture can strain your neck and jaw muscles, exacerbating TMJ disorder symptoms. Be mindful of your posture throughout the day, and avoid slouching or hunching over.  
  • Manage stress: Stress can contribute to muscle tension and exacerbate TMJ disorder symptoms. Practice stress-management techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, or yoga to help manage stress and anxiety in your jaw muscles.  

Following these tips and working with your dental healthcare provider to manage your TMJ disorder can help prevent dental complications and maintain good oral health. Talk to your dentist or healthcare provider if you have any questions or concerns about TMJ disorder.  


TMJ disorder can significantly impact oral health, causing pain, discomfort, and other complications. Understanding the causes and symptoms of TMJ disorder and working with your dental healthcare provider to determine the best treatment approach for your needs is essential.  

If you're experiencing TMJ disorder symptoms or have concerns about your dental health, don't hesitate to contact your healthcare provider. They can help evaluate your needs and develop a treatment plan to address your concerns.  

Remember, oral health is essential to your overall health and well-being. Caring for your teeth and gums and working with your healthcare providers can help ensure a healthy and happy smile for years.

Contact your Danville dentist, Dr. Hoss Abar, DDS, MSD, at Danville Orthodontics to learn about TMJ Disorder: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment Options. 


Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ)

*This media/content or any other on this website does not prescribe, recommend, or prevent any treatment or procedure. Therefore, we highly recommend that you get the advice of a qualified dentist or other medical practitioners regarding your specific dental condition*

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