TMJ Treatment Services Tacoma WA

What is TMJ?

TMJ stands for temporomandibular (pronounced tem-puh-roe-mun-DIB-u-lur) joint. It is the hinge that connects your jawbone to your skull. When someone has a TMJ disorder (TMD), they will often experience pain in their jaw and with the muscles that control jaw movement.

It’s not exactly known what causes TMD. It may be the result of an injury to the jaw or head such as a heavy hit or whiplash.  Other causes include:

  • Grinding and clenching your teeth
  • Arthritis in the joint
  • Stress which, often causes the tendency to tighten facial and jaw muscles (clenching your teeth).

The pain associated with TMJ disorders may be temporary or last years. Women are more likely to get it than men and it’s most common with people between 20 and 40.

Common symptoms of TMJ Disorder

  • Pain in your face, jaw, and neck
  • Problems opening your mouth wide
  • Your jaw getting stuck in the open or closed position
  • Trouble chewing
  • An uncomfortable change in your bite
  • Clicking, popping, or grating in the jaw joint

If you or someone in your family is experiencing these symptoms, call us for an appointment. We will get you in right away for a consultation with Dr. Khan.

The Link Between Posture and Oral Health

Some seemingly unrelated things are often connected which is a big reason we hear so much emphasis on holistic medicine.  We’ve discussed how a persistent headache could be linked to tooth decay when it has reached the point of needing immediate attention. If you experience frequent headaches along with pain in your lower jaw it is very likely that it could be linked to bad posture. You’ll want to consult with the dentist about temporomandibular disorder (TMD) also known as TMJ disorder. When you have bad posture, your spine is placed in a position that puts stress on your jaw joint. When slouching, your lower jaw shifts forward which causes your upper and lower teeth to not meet up properly and your skull moves back on the spine. This movement is stressful for bones, joints, and muscles and causes inflammation.

We know that posture is important for our health for many reasons including that it:

  • Helps us breath properly
  • Increases our concentration and thinking ability
  • Improves self-confidence and image
  • Helps us avoid health complications such as back aches and poor blood circulation

And now we also know that it helps us with maintaining good oral health as well. If you experience face pain and/or persistent headaches and you are guilty of bad posture consult the dentist about treating what could likely be temporomandibular disorder (TMD).

How to Treat Your TMJ Disorder at Home

You’ll want to talk to the dentist about your temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ or TMD) and the best course of action for treatment. That discussion may include one or more of these at home options. Eat soft foods. It is probably a good idea to avoid hard, crunchy, or chewy foods and/or foods that require you to open your jaw wide to consume them. Eating soft foods such as mashed potatoes, soup, cottage cheese, and scrambled eggs are a much better option requiring minimal chewing.

Avoid excessive jaw movement. Along with avoiding too much chewing or chewing too hard, avoid chewing gum or anything else like yelling or singing that forces a lot of movement, especially with a wide-open jaw.

Focus on keeping your teeth apart. Try to keep your teeth slightly apart, when possible, thus relieving pressure on your jaw. You can try putting your tongue between your teeth to prevent clenching and grinding.

Use hot and cold packs.  Apply an ice pack to the side of your face for about 10 minutes followed by a warm towel or cloth for about 5 minutes. Ask your dentist about possible jaw stretches between the cold and hot packs.

Try over-the-counter medications. NSAIDs like naproxen or ibuprofen can help with relieving the pain and swelling.

Learn how to relax. Talk to the dentist about physical therapy, massage, and/or stress reduction therapy.

How to Get Started

Give us a call today for a free TMJ consultation at 253-473-4303.


Woman holding an ice pack to her face because of TMJ pain