What Is TMJ Disorder?

Woman holding stick of gum

​The temporomandibular joints, known commonly as the TMJs, act as a hinge between the skull and jawbone. When the joint becomes damaged, the patient can experience pain. The pain is located in the muscle and the jaw joint itself, leading to facial discomfort, headaches, popping in the ear and other related issues. Treatments can range from over-the-counter pain medicine to reconstructive surgery.

What Causes TMJ Disorder?

The issues that cause TMJD are related to a number of factors:

Food choices:

Eating certain foods, such as hard candies, ice or other dense foods

Poor oral health:

Not regularly maintaining proper care, such as brushing or flossing

Chewing habits:

Biting on a pen, pencil or nails or regularly chewing gum


Arthritis can cause issues in the joint itself

Prolonged use:

Overuse of movement over an extended period, resulting in stress on the muscle tissue and aggravation to the joint.

A number of symptoms can indicate if you are suffering from TMJD, including:

  • Spinal alignment problems
  • Neck pain
  • Ear pain
  • Facial pain

How Do I Know If I Have TMJD?

If you experience the following symptoms, you should be evaluated for TMJD:

  • Issues eating
  • Popping or clicking jaw
  • Clenching or grinding your teeth

How Can I Mitigate TMJD?

There are a variety of different things you can do to help ease the pain and discomfort of TMJD, including:

  • Stop chewing gum
  • Use a mouth guard
  • Keep your jaw relaxed
  • Gently massage your jaw

For more information, or if you have any questions about TMJ disorder or the symptoms and treatments, call us today at 724-220-2347.

Dr. Alexandra S. George

Medically reviewed by Dr. Alexandra S. George - D.D.S., L.Vl.I.F. on February 10th, 2020