Neuromuscular Dentistry – Jaw / TMJ

(Offered at our Brandywine Office)

The term TMJ refers to a variety of conditions that affect the TMJ, the hinge that connects the jaw and the muscles one uses to chew. While usually temporary and recurring, these conditions can be painful. Our dentists at Dental Assciates of Delaware have treatments available that may give you relief from TMJ symptoms. Discuss neuromuscular dentistry with us and learn how it can help your TMJ symptoms.


What does TMJ stand for?

TMJ literally refers to the temporomandibular joints (TMJs), which are the hinges that connect your lower jaw to your skull. The numerous disorders associated with the TMJ muscles are often referred to “TMJ” or as “TMD” (TMJ Disorders). TMD is not just one condition, but a group of painful disorders that affect the TMJ and the muscles one uses to chew.


What is TMD or TMJ Disorder?

TMD is not just one condition, but a group of painful disorders that affect the TMJs and the muscles one uses to chew. It affects more women than men, and is usually temporary or occasional, but a small percentage of sufferers have serious chronic problems.

Do I have a TMJ Disorder?

The following are symptoms of TMJ Disorders. Not everyone experiences all of these problems. If you experience some of them, speak to our dentists at Dental Assciates of Delaware and have them perform a thorough examination.

Jaw pain, stiffness or soreness

Jaw pain while chewing, biting, or yawning

Painful or tender jaw joint

Difficulty opening and closing the mouth

Restricted range of jaw movement or “locking” of the jaw in an open or closed position

Painful clicking, popping, grinding or grating sounds in the jaw joint when opening or closing the mouth

Pain and fatigue when eating hard or chewy foods

Bruxism – grinding or clenching of teeth when awake or asleep

Earaches without an ear infection

Sensitive teeth and toothaches without evidence of dental problems

Teeth that break or crack without an apparent cause

Aching or radiating pain on the side of the head, face, neck and shoulders

A burning sensation in the mouth/tongue

Frequent unexplained headaches – sometimes diagnosed as migraines

What causes TMJ Disorders?

TMJ is not completely understood by the medical community, so research on causes and treatments continues. Some contributing factors may include:

Trauma – a sharp blow to the face, head, neck or jaw

Disease – osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or gout


Age and Gender – it most often affects women of child-bearing age

Bad oral habits – some believe TMJ can be caused or aggravated by activities that put the jaw in stressful positions, including tongue thrusting, mouth breathing, wide yawning, and nail, lip, or cheek biting

Habits and posture – cradling a telephone between your ear and shoulder, talking excessively, straining the shoulder with a heavy shoulder bag, and hunching forward to read

Medical procedures – oral procedures that unnaturally hold the jaw open or those requiring intubations

Bruxism – teeth clenching or grinding

How can TMJ be treated with neuromuscular dentistry?

Make sure to first discuss all your symptoms with one of our dentists and get a thorough examination. They will want to rule out other dental possibilities for your symptoms. There are a number of treatments available, ranging from simple and gentle to the more aggressive and permanent. It is best to make simple adjustments first, like eating soft foods, and not chewing gum, and consider more complex or permanent solutions only if necessary. Discuss available options with us.

Simple techniques you can try on your own:

Massaging the muscles of the face, neck and shoulders

Practicing relaxation techniques designed to reduce stress

Maintaining good posture at work and at home

Trying to keep the jaw relaxed

Avoiding hard foods and gum

Avoiding stressful jaw movements like big yawns

Getting plenty of sleep

Maintaining a good diet and drinking plenty of water

Moist heat or cold packs


Over-the-counter pain medications

Medical solutions to discuss with us:

Prescription anti-inflammatory medications or muscle relaxants

Mouth guards or splints – mouthpieces and special appliances designed to fit or adjust your bite

Reconstructive surgery

Jaw joint or disc replacement