Dental Health Connection

Randall W. Smith, DDS

Cosmetic & General Dentistry & Facial Aesthetics Specialist located in Burlington, MA

TMJ pain, discomfort, and popping sounds can be concerning and frustrating, especially if you have trouble eating or talking. At Dental Health Connection: Randall W. Smith, DDS in Burlington, Massachusetts, you can get effective relief from TMJ dysfunction and pain. Experienced dentist Dr. Smith offers comprehensive dental care, so your mouth can look and feel as good as possible. Schedule an appointment by phone or online today to get help with your TMJ problems.


What is TMJ?

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the joint that connects your lower jawbone to your upper jaw in front of your ear on both sides of your skull.

The TMJ is responsible for opening and closing your mouth and can also slide your jaw forward and backward slightly, enabling you to chew.

The TMJ contains the bones of your upper and lower jaw, cartilage, and a small, flexible disc that provides cushion and gliding movement to the joint. With TMJ dysfunction (TMD) — also called TMJ or TMJ syndrome — you can experience:

  • Pain or tenderness in your jaw
  • Pain in one of both joints on either side
  • Aching pain in and around your ear
  • Difficulty chewing or pain while chewing
  • Aching facial pain
  • Locking of the joint, making it difficult to open or close your mouth
  • Popping, clicking, and cracking in your jaw

TMJ dysfunction can become increasingly uncomfortable and may make eating and talking difficult. Understanding the cause of your TMD and getting treatment from Dr. Smith can give you relief.

What causes TMJ dysfunction?

TMD occurs when there is some irritation or restriction of the movement of the TMJ. This can occur if the disc slips out of place or erodes, the jaw is injured by trauma, or cartilage in the jaw is damaged by arthritis. Risk factors for developing TMD include:

  • Arthritis, including rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis
  • Jaw injury
  • Long-term clenching or grinding of the jaw
  • Connective tissue diseases that affect the jaw, including lupus and Sjögren’s syndrome

Dr. Smith performs a thorough examination to understand your symptoms and diagnose the cause of your TMJ symptoms accurately.

How is TMJ dysfunction diagnosed?

Based on your symptoms, Dr. Smith examines your teeth and jaw thoroughly to locate the cause of your discomfort.

He may press on your jaw to check for signs of tenderness and swelling, have you bite down on a dental probe to check the strength of your jaw muscles, and measure how far you can open your mouth.

Dr. Smith also listens to and feels the side of your jaw as you open and close your mouth to check for signs of abnormal motion, popping, clicking, and grinding. In some cases, he may take X-rays of your mouth to check for signs of arthritis.

In severe cases, a CT scan may be required if he suspects that the TMJ disc is displaced. Based on his findings, Dr. Smith diagnoses the cause of your symptoms and recommends treatment options.

How is TMJ dysfunction treated?

Treatment will depend on the cause of your TMD and the severity of your symptoms. Dr. Smith may provide lifestyle recommendations, like techniques to reduce clenching your jaw while you’re awake, and gentle stretches you can perform to improve the movement of your jaw.

Dr. Smith also recommends protective night guards to prevent you from clenching your jaw while you sleep.

For jaw pain, popping, or clicking, visit Dental Health Connection: Randall W. Smith, DDS for a TMJ consultation. Schedule your appointment online or by phone today.