TMJ Disorder: Causes, Symptoms, and Relief

young businesswoman with dental painIf you have a toothache, you could probably pinpoint it with fair accuracy, and a quick trip to the dentist’s office can tell you why the tooth hurts and how to relieve it. The same is true for most forms of dental discomfort, but sometimes, you might not even realize that your aching is dental-related. TMJ disorder encompasses a wide range of conditions involving damage to your jaw’s joints, and the signs can include headaches, earaches, and other seemingly ambiguous symptoms.

What is TMJ Disorder?

The two temporomandibular joints (TMJs) located in front of each ear connect your lower jaw to your skull, and move in tandem as you open and close your mouth. TMJ disorder is a blanket term describing any of a number of conditions that affect the function of your jaw’s joints and muscles. Often the result of excessive stress, TMJ disorder can also result from, or be exacerbated by, dental conditions that force your jaw to work harder, such as;

  • Crooked teeth, or malocclusion
  • An asymmetrical jawbone
  • Habitual teeth-grinding
  • Untreated tooth loss

Common Symptoms

If your jaw is in the grips of TMJ disorder, the joints may be inflamed from the stress and pressure, which can disturb the nerve that innervates your jaw and most of your craniofacial structures. Pain in your jaw can be transferred to other areas of your head, neck, and face, and TMJ disorder can manifest as;

  • Popping and clicking noises when you open and close your mouth
  • Tender, sore jaw and facial muscles
  • Chronic headaches, including severe migraines
  • Persistent pain and/or ringing in the ears
  • Stiff or locking jaw joints (locked-jaw)

Relief at Home

When TMJ disorder is significant, you need your dentist’s help to diagnose and treat the condition. Patients with minor cases of TMJ disorder, however, can often find relief with a few home remedies and lifestyle changes, such as;

  • Exercise more regularly to release built-up stress
  • Stretch and massage your jaw muscles when they feel tight or sore
  • Engage in a hobby that you find especially relaxing
  • Seek treatment for existing dental conditions as soon as possible


Dr. Maria and Dr. Thanasi Loukas are highly-skilled general, restorative, and implant dentists serving the Park Ridge and surrounding Chicago communities. To find out if your discomfort is TMJ related, or to learn more about treating and alleviating TMJ discomfort, stay tuned to our upcoming blogs, or call Loukas General Dentistry today at (847) 696-1919.

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