Dr. M.J. Bazos, Patient Handout


About Your Diagnosis
The temporomandibular joints (TMJs) are the two joints near the ears that allow the jaw to open and close. Individuals with temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD) may have pain, noises, and clicking around the jaw, and they often have abnormal movement of the mouth or jaw. Temporomandibular joint disorder usually occurs as a result of strain and spasm of the muscles that open and close the mouth but can also result from changes in the joints
themselves. Temporomandibular joint disorder occurs for different reasons, but usually stress and jaw clenching are involved. Other reasons for strain and fatigue are changes in the alignment of the jaw from already diagnosed forms of arthritis. Temporomandibular joint disorder is a common problem that affects women more often than men. It is diagnosed by obtaining a medical history and performing a physical examination. Occasionally, x-rays or other types of scans such as a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan are needed.

Living With Your Diagnosis
Individuals with TMD often have symptoms in one or more locations including pain in the face or jaw, difficulty opening or closing the mouth, problems aligning the jaw, and clicking or popping noises in the temporomandibular joint near the ear. The pain is worse with movement of the jaw, chewing, yawning, and clenching the teeth. Temporomandibular joint disorder can be associated with headaches, ear pain, neck pain, and ringing in the ears.

Anti-inflammatory medication and heat or ice will decrease the pain. A soft diet that requires less vigorous chewing will reduce the strain and fatigue in the jaw muscles. Your dentist might fit you with a mouth piece to modify jaw clenching, especially at night. Some individuals require a dental evaluation to determine whether there are any abnormalities in the alignment of the teeth or jaw. Jaw exercises can help to relax the jaw. A roll-shaped pillow can help with neck pain. If these treatments are not effective, different pain medications such as amitriptyline, physical therapy, relaxation training, or biofeedback might be recommended.

The DOs
• Take your medicines as prescribed.
• Use your mouth piece if it is prescribed.
• Follow other treatment instructions.
• Ask your doctor which over-the-counter medications you may take with your prescription medications.

The DON’Ts
• Wait to see whether side effects from medications will go away.

When to Call Your Doctor
• You have any medication side effects.
• The treatment is not decreasing your symptoms in a reasonable amount of time.
• Your jaw “locks” open or closed.

The American Dental Association at: