The temporomandibular joint is what connects your jaw to your skull, and you have one of these joints on each side of your jaw. If you suffer from one of the TMJ disorders (temporomandibular joint disorders), you may experience pain in the joint or the muscles that are responsible for movement in the jaw. Pain is only one of the symptoms of TMJ. In this post, we are going to look at the symptoms of disorders with the temporomandibular joint and what treatment options are available to alleviate them.


What Causes Temporomandibular Joint Disorders?

In a diagnostic setting, it can be difficult to determine the cause of a person’s TMJ disorders. In many cases, temporomandibular joint disorders are the result of more than one cause or factor. One patient could have a combination of jaw pain, arthritis, and genetic factors that all contribute to their discomfort. It is also very common for patients with jaw pain to grind their teeth at night, and identifying the cause can be a challenge.

The temporomandibular joint is responsible for our ability to ear and chew by opening and closing the jaw. The temporomandibular joint is a complex structure with different components that can make it difficult to establish where the discomfort or limited mobility is coming from. The bones of the joint are covered by cartilage and have a disc between them, which operates like a shock absorber.


It’s possible for TMJ disorders to occur if:

  • The cartilage in the joint is affected by arthritis
  • The disc is no longer in alignment
  • The impact injures the joint


What Are The Symptoms Of TMJ?

Disorders of the TMJ are most common in people between the ages of 20 and 40. They tend to occur more frequently in women than in men. Some of the signs of symptoms of TMJ disorders may include

  • Persistent or regular pain in one or both of the temporomandibular joints
  • Headaches
  • Ear ache or ringing in the ears
  • Neck or shoulder pain
  • Tenderness or pain in the jaw
  • Discomfort or pain when chewing or swallowing
  • Locking of the temporomandibular joint, which can make it impossible to open or close your jaw
  • Aching of the facial muscles 
  • Swelling in the face
  • Toothache
  • Clicking sounds when you open or close your jaw


What Risk Factors Are Involved In The Development Of Temporomandibular Joint Disorders?

Your chances of developing TMJ disorders are elevated if you

  • Suffer from arthritis such as rheumatoid or osteoarthritis
  • Experience a jaw injury
  • Have an improper bite
  • Are under extreme stress
  • Are a long-term or chronic teeth grinder
  • Suffer from connective tissue disorders that affect the joint.


How Are Temporomandibular Joint Disorders Diagnosed?

TMJ dysfunction can be diagnosed by a qualified medical or dental professional. After describing your symptoms, the practitioner may ask you some questions and will want to examine you.

tmj symptoms melbourneHe or she may want to:

Observe the range of motion of your jaw and ask you to open and close your mouth

Feel your temporomandibular joints when you open and close your mouth

Apply light pressure to your face and jaw to determine which areas are painful.


Your dental or medical practitioner may also want to run some tests, such as



By performing a dental x-ray, the dental practitioner will be able to look at your teeth, jaw, and joints.


CBCT Scans

This type of scan takes thousands of images of your facial structure, which it uses to render a 3D image of the anatomy of your face.



Magnetic resonance imaging can be used to get a closer look at the soft tissues around your jaw joints. Any inflammation will also be visible on an MRI. It also allows your practitioner to have a look at the disc in the TMJ and how well it is working.


Treatments To Ease The Symptoms Of TMJ Disorders

Conservative treatments are usually used as the first line of treatment. Your healthcare provider may recommend one or more of these treatment options


Using cold and heat packs to alleviate pain

Using heat and cold packs along with gentle jaw stretching exercises may help to improve jaw joint mobility and ease discomfort. This will need to be done a few times throughout the day to ease your symptoms.


Medications for swelling and pain

Sometimes muscle relaxants are necessary to ease tight muscles in the jaw. If stress is a problem, your healthcare provider may recommend anti-anxiety or anti-depressant medication to help you cope.


Consider dental treatments

If you do have an improper bite, corrective dental treatments may offer you some relief. Replacing missing teeth and orthodontic treatment can correct a misaligned bite.


Consider wearing a nightguard

Night guards and mandibular splints can be worn over the upper or lower jaw if teeth grinding is a problem. They address a misaligned bite. A night guard is worn at night, while a mandibular splint is worn all the time.


Practising jaw good habits

  • Avoid biting down on the ends of pencils and biting your nails
  • Become more aware of tension in your jaw and try to relax the muscles when you feel the tension building in your jaw
  • Practice daily relaxation techniques to help you with stress.


TMJ surgery

TMJ surgery should be considered as a last resort, but if all the other techniques do not bring you relief, discuss your surgical options with your healthcare provider.


To find out more about treatments for the symptoms of TMJ, please contact us for an appointment:

Footscray: (03) 9068 5357

Niddrie: (03) 9068 5316

Caulfield North: (03) 9068 5355



Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Disorders


TMJ disorders 


Temporomandibular Joint Disorders (TMD, TMJ)

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