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What Is TMJ?

Staff | November 2021

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) connects your lower jaw to your skull. You can feel it on both sides of your head, just in front of your ears, when you open and close your jaw. You may not realize it, but you use this joint day and night- every time you open or close your mouth, clench your jaw or grind your teeth. 

For many people, the TMJ gets aggravated due to health issues. These disorders (collectively known as TMD) can cause soreness, pain, tightness and limited movement. According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, as many as 10 million Americans suffer from TMD.

Common Symptoms

To diagnose TMD and receive the proper treatment, you need a professional evaluation. If you are experiencing some of these common symptoms, you can call us for a consultation. You may have these symptoms on one or both sides of your face.

  • Pain or soreness in your jaw, face or neck
  • Stiffness in the jaw area
  • Limited jaw movement 
  • Locking movement when you open or close your jaw
  • Clicking or popping sound in the TMJ area
  • Change in jaw position that shifts the alignment of your upper and lower teeth 

Simple Ways to Get Relief

If you have pain or soreness in the TMJ area, you can ease symptoms by putting less stress on the joint.

  • Eat soft foods only (no hard/chewy foods or gum).
  • Decrease the range of jaw movements (avoid shouting or yawning). 
  • Reduce stress to prevent clenching and grinding. 

The Benefits of Treatment

If self-care practices don’t relieve your symptoms, we suggest that you come in for a consultation. We can evaluate your  jaw alignment and explain methods to improve it if needed. For some patients, we recommend wearing a mouthguard at night to reduce teeth clenching and grinding. As always, we’ll educate you on lifestyle changes that can make a difference.


If you have some of the common TMD symptoms described in this article, make an appointment with us for a consultation. Help is just a phone call away. You can reach us at  (301) 881-6170 or on our website. 

EJL Dental

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