TMJ Disorder

TMJ disorder affects the temporomandibular joint, causing jaw pain. Find a TMJ dentist at Pathway Dental Group who can help with diagnoses and TMJ treatment.

TMJ Treatment in Santa Barbara County, CA

Your TMJ is the hinge just below the ears that connects your jaw to your skull. TMJ disorder leads to an ache in the jaw — with pain and tenderness in the joints, especially when you chew. It’s hard to pinpoint the cause of TMJ disorder, but we can look to see if a disk between the bones is out of place, if you have arthritis of the jaw or if you’ve experienced other head trauma.

You may be more likely to have TMJ disorder if you grind your teeth. Some people also have a family history of TMJ problems.

No matter the cause, at Pathway Dental Group, we’ll help you find a treatment plan that soothes your jaw pain.

Woman holding her cheek in pain, indicating TMJ pain
  • How do I know if I have TMJ?

    You can’t diagnose yourself with TMJ disorder, but you can see if you have certain symptoms. In many cases, jaw, ear or face pain goes away on its own, or you can relieve pain with over-the-counter medication. If nothing works, let us know.

    Common TMJ disorder symptoms include:

    • Ear pain
    • Facial pain that’s “achy”
    • Headaches
    • Jaw pain, or the jaw is tender to the touch
    • A locked jaw that gets stuck open or closed
    • Pain while chewing
  • How do you diagnose TMJ disorder?

    To diagnose TMJ disorder, first we talk about any risk factors that may be the cause of your discomfort. Then we do an exam. During the exam, we’ll listen to your jaw, feel your jaw move and push on different areas to locate the pain. We also take X-rays or 3D imaging.

    In some cases, patients need an MRI scan to check for disk or soft tissue damage.

  • What is TMJ treatment like?

    We usually suggest starting with over-the-counter pain medicine, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or Ibuprofen (Advil). Both can treat minor pain or inflammation. You can also try the following to relieve stress or pain:

    • Apply a cold or hot pack to the area.
    • Avoid foods that make the jaw muscle work hard.
    • Do physical therapy.
    • Get acupuncture.
    • Get a massage.
    • Try meditation or other relaxation techniques.

    Your dentist may prescribe a type of antidepressant that helps with teeth grinding and sleep, or a muscle relaxant.

    You may benefit from wearing an oral appliance to treat TMJ disorder. Pathway Dental Group offers mouth guards and night guards to protect your teeth from grinding (bruxism).

    If no TMJ treatments work, we may recommend surgery, but we tend to reserve that as a final option.

More Questions?

If you have more questions about TMJ please contact our office and we will be happy to discuss further.