TMJ disorder (TMD) refers to problems associated with the jaw joint, muscles, and tissue that are responsible for moving the jaw.

Brentwood area dentist discusses the symptoms, causes, and treatment of TMJ disorder

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Are you experiencing chronic discomfort or pain in your jaw? If you answered yes, you may be suffering from TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorder. TMJ disorder (TMD) refers to problems associated with the jaw joint, muscles, and tissue that are responsible for moving the jaw. Patients with TMD can have symptoms that range from minor discomfort to strong pain. At Brentwood Family Dental, we can accurately diagnose and treat TMD to alleviate your symptoms. Understanding the symptoms of TMJ disorder along with treatment options can help ensure that you receive the relief that you deserve.

What is the temporomandibular joint?

Your jaw is a hinge, and the TMJ is the joint that connects the jaw to the lower part of the skull. The temporomandibular joints are ball and socket joints that move easily which allows you to chew, yawn, talk, smile, etc. Attached to the joint are facial muscles which help control jaw movement.

How TMJ disorder develops

While the exact cause of TMJ disorder can vary by individual, it is typically a problem with the either the muscles surrounding the jaw or the joint itself. When there is dysfunction in either, the joint or muscles it can cause several different symptoms.
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Symptoms of TMJ disorder

 One of the most common indicators of TMJ disorder is a clicking sound in the joint One of the most common indicators of TMJ disorder is a clicking sound in the joint, which is caused by the disks that lie between the ball and socket. The sound is often loud enough to be heard by others and many individuals report that they can feel the clicking when they place their fingers over the joint. The clicking sound itself isn’t enough to necessitate treatment, but when it is accompanied by pain or the inability to properly move the jaw, it is time to schedule an evaluation with your Brentwood, CA dentist, Dr. Alkhoury.

The second major symptom of TMJ disorder is muscle pain, especially in the cheeks or temples. In many cases, individuals with TMJ disorder will wake to jaw stiffness and intense pain, which is a result of grinding and clenching during sleep. The third most common indicator of TMJ disorder is pain emanating from the joint itself. For many individuals, this pain can be intense and uncomfortable.

Other signs that you may have TMJ disorder are:


  • Headaches
  • Muscle spasms
  • Neck stiffness
  • Toothaches
  • Earaches
  • Dizziness

Diagnosing and treating TMJ Disorders

If you experience any of the major symptoms of TMJ disorder, the first thing to do is schedule a visit with Dr. Alkhoury for an accurate diagnosis. The temporomandibular joints are connected through nerve networks to other areas of the body such as the neck and back muscles, the teeth, and the sinuses. It’s important to make sure that your symptoms are related to TMD.

The dentist will begin by taking a family history and then examining the joints to determine:

  • If there are any noises such as popping, clicking, or grating
  • If there is pain or tenderness in the joint
  • If there is limited movement or locking of the jaw

The second major symptom of TMJ disorder is muscle pain

X-rays will also be taken to evaluate the position of the jaw and the teeth.


If we determine that you do have TMD, there are many things we can do to alleviate the pain. One of the first things we may recommend is certain at home remedies and lifestyle changes such as:
  • Consuming a soft diet – Food such as yogurt, soup, cottage cheese, fish, beans, and mashed potatoes are all good choices. Foods that are hard or extremely chewy should be limited or avoided as they can cause you to overuse your jaw muscles.
  • Massage – Gentle massage can help relax the muscles.
  • Alternating cold and hot therapy – Using ice packs on the side of the face for brief periods of time, followed by routine jaw exercises and a warm compress can alleviate pain and relax the muscles.
  • Reduce stress – Practicing relaxation techniques and minimizing stress can relax muscle tension.

In addition to these treatments, we may also recommend a custom night guard. The plastic mouthpiece has two main purposes. The first, to keep the teeth apart which minimizes the ability to grind and clench during sleep. The second is to reposition the bite to reduce stress on joint and correct dysfunction.

To schedule your TMJ evaluation, call 925-344-5296.



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