TMJ/TMD FAQs: Treatments, causes and symptoms of TMJ Disorder


San Antonio, Texas

What are some of the causes of TMJ/TMD?

  • Malocclusion – the abnormal positioning of the upper and lower teeth when the jaw is closed (bite)
  • Clenching and/or grinding the teeth (usually occurring during sleep) caused by stress
  • Trauma to the jaw area or, specifically, to the temporomandibular joint (jaw joint) itself
  • Arthritis within the jaw joint

Is surgery the only option For this disorder?
No! There are many treatments to pursue before surgical procedures are considered. For instance, if the condition is thought to be stress-related, the simplest solution is the temporary usage of over-the-counter pain relievers, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), muscle relaxants and ice-pack therapy for immediate relief. At the same time, you can work on lifestyle changes to eliminate the stress. Of course, many other options are available to treat non-stress-related TMJ, so open communication with Dr. Hale is crucial.

What are the most prevalent symptoms of TMJ?
According to one study, the most frequent complaints and the approximate percentage of their occurrences were:

  • Headaches (including migraines) – 76%
  • Ear problems (including tinnitus [ringing in the ears], clogged or “muffled” ears, otalgia [earache without infection present] and dizziness – 76%
  • Pain, clicking and/or popping sounds, limited ability to open temporomandibular joint – 72%
  • Pain in throat (44%), face (45%), teeth (51%), neck (50%), back (41%) and behind eyes (38%)

A friend of mine was prescribed antidepressants for her TMJ problems. Does this mean she’s depressed?
Not necessarily. The reason antidepressants are sometimes prescribed for TMJ patients lies in the ability of some of them to put people into deep, Delta 4-stage sleep. This causes the jaw muscles to fully relax and rest, which can decrease pain and help alleviate symptoms.

Until I can see my doctor, what are some things I can do to help with my TMJ?

  • Eat soft foods and avoid food that requires biting with your front teeth.
  • Do not chew gum.
  • Avoid opening your mouth wider than one or two inches.
  • Chew with both sides of your mouth.
  • Apply moist heat up to four times a day for five to 10 minutes. If pain is acute, cold compresses usually work better, applied at the same rate/frequency as heat.
  • Massage the sore jaw joint(s) gently, using a rotating motion, for five to 10 seconds, then open the mouth and hold for another five to 10 seconds to stretch the chewing muscles that surround the joint. Repeat throughout the day.

Dr. Hale has been specifically trained in how to diagnose and treat TMJ. He is a gneuromuscular dentist* who has received both theoretical and hands-on education in TMJ.

If you are feeling any of the TMJ symptoms, don’t feel that you have to just live with them. Every case of TMJ is one-of-a-kind. Dr. Hale has specialized TMJ diagnostic and treatment technology. He can examine your jaw joint, test its movements and sounds, measure and record it, and best of all, relieve your pain. Don’t delay in seeking relief from this difficult condition. Give us a call today, or send an email, so we can set up a consultation for you.

Describe Your TMJ

Printable Form (PDF)
To help us better understand your specific pain points and determine the ideal treatment, please print this form. Circle all symptoms that apply to you and bring it to your TMJ consultation.