Although TMJ is not a very common condition, there are times when dentists have to deal with it.

TMJ stands for temporomandibular joints. To put is simply, these are the joints of the jaw on either side of your head. They are the ones that allow you to open and close your mouth. In fact, without them you would not be able to eat or speak because they control functions such as chewing, swallowing as well as talking.

There are discs to cushion the joints quite similar to the ones that are in the spine to cushion spinal discs from damage. When these discs are compromised one develops what is known as TMJ disorder. It is a very painful condition but fortunately, dentists are trained to treat it.

There are several reasons why someone may develop TMJ disorder. It can happen as a result of arthritis, a dislocation of the jaw caused by trauma, wrong alignment between the teeth and the jaw but the most common cause of TMJ disorder is teeth grinding.

If you have been experiencing pain due to any of these you should see your San Diego, CA dentist for a proper diagnosis. The first thing they will do is examine you to determine exactly what the cause of your pain is. They will ask you to open and close your jaws during which they will listen for a popping sound. They also check whether you have sore jaw muscles and how easily you are able move your jaws forwards and backwards.

Dentists as well as doctors are usually quite reluctant to resort to invasive treatment of TMJ. They will usually try a subtle approach before they try surgery. Soft treatments include:

•    Recommending soft foods that don’t require much chewing.

•    No excessive chewing such as chewing gum or biting nails.

•    Using heat packs to take care of the pain.

•    Modified behavior if your pain is due to stress that forces you to clench your jaw.

•    Strength exercises for your jaw muscles.

If these treatments do not work the doctor may prescribe mediations such as pain killers, muscle relaxers, anti-inflammatory medications and if your pain is caused by anxiety they will prescribe you with anti- anxiety medications. If your pain is because you grind your teeth, which usually happens at night when one is asleep your dentist will give you a mouth guard for you to clench your teeth on while you sleep.

Another common treatment that is offered by dentists is San Diego, CA is fixing an uneven bite. They may decide to reshape some teeth or they could offer orthodontic treatment to realign your teeth to your jaws. They could also install crowns and bridges to fix the bite.

What are the irreversible treatments of TMJ disorder?

These are treatments that require surgery but they are not much recommended because they often don’t work and in many cases they tend to make the problem worse. One treatment is the installation of splints which change your bite for good. Here are other treatments that they may recommend:


Surgery is rarely used to treat TMJ problems because there hasn’t been any conclusive research into how helpful it is. In addition to that, there is no standard procedure has been put in place to identify those who may benefit from surgery and those who may not. If your San Diego, CA dentists suggests that you should have surgery to treat your TMJ disorder make sure to ask him why he thinks surgery may help, how much success you can expect, the risks that are involved and also whether there are other non-invasive procedures that may help.

Jaw implants

Yes, that is exactly what it sounds like – the surgeon takes out a part of your jaw and replaces it with implants. There are many problems with this approach. The first is that installing implants can leave you in severe pain. Another problem is that the implants tend to severely compromise what is left of the jaw and eventually you may have to get rid of it altogether. If your dentist suggests this option make sure to seek a second opinion about how to treat your TMJ disorder.


TMJ disorder is a rare condition that occurs when the discs that cushion the jaw muscles are compromised. It is quite painful but it is rare for dentists to suggest invasive procedures. Your San Diego, CA dentist will do this only when he has tried all other forms of treatment and failed.