Dennis C. Stephens, RMT, NMT, CST, LDT, VMT
Advanced Therapy Center

800 Bering, Ste 227
Houston TX 77057

Head Therapy

Head Therapy
Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ)


Temporomandibular Joint Disorders are a variety of conditions that cause pain in the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). Your TMJ is the hinge joint on each side of your head where your lower jawbone (mandible) joins the temporal bone of your skull.

The bony surfaces of the TMJ are covered with cartilage and separated by a small disk, which prevents them from rubbing against each other. The muscles that enable you to open and close your mouth stabilize this joint. These flexible joints are used more than any other joint in the body. They are used to open and close in a wide variety of movements for talking, chewing, swallowing etc.

The potential causes of tenderness and pain in your TMJ are many. They include wear and tear, arthritic inflammation, injury, stress, some dental appliances, and clenching or grinding your teeth. The pain associated with TMJ disorders (also referred to as TMDs) can vary from minor to severe. The condition may be temporary or chronic.

About 15 percent of adults in the United States experience chronic facial pain. However, a variety of approaches can provide relief, and you can take actions to counter the factors that may lead to TMJ pain.

Temporomandibular Joint Disorders (TMJ) – Symptoms
Signs and symptoms of TMJ disorders may include:

Inability to chew certain foods, or eating only a soft diet
Muscle pain or tenderness in the face, ear, neck or shoulders.
Tenderness of the jaw Aching pain in and around your ear.
A clicking sound, popping, cracking or grating sensation when opening your mouth or chewing.
Locking of the joint, making it difficult to open or close your mouth
Headache. In children with TMJ these are often related to grinding the teeth.
Uncomfortable bite
An uneven bite, because one or more teeth are making premature contact.

You may feel the pain or tenderness, even when you aren't moving your jaw. But in most cases, the pain or tenderness worsens when you move your jaw or chew. A dull discomfort in your jaws and muscles on awakening in the morning or that gets progressively worse throughout the day may be the result of excessive grinding (bruxism) and jaw clenching. This condition is sometimes associated with a TMJ disorder.

Jaw clicking is common and doesn't always signal a problem. If there's no pain or limitation of movement associated with your jaw clicking, you probably don't have a TMJ disorder.

In most cases, symptoms of TMJ disorders are mild and tend to come and go without getting worse and usually subside without formal treatment. About 75% of people who see a health professional for initial TMJ disorder symptoms will improve regardless of the treatment.

Approximately 12% of people who have symptoms of TMJ disorders develop chronic symptoms.

Heat or Cold Appling warm, moist heat or ice to the side of your face may make you feel better. .

Biteplate If your TMJ is misaligned, your dentist may recommend a plastic biteplate (splint), worn over your teeth, to help align your upper and lower jaws.

Night Guard Appliance If you grind your teeth in your sleep, a night guard appliance, which is a soft or firm device inserted over your teeth, can help prevent grinding and excessive wear. 

The most common dental treatment for TMJ symptoms is using splints or biteplates for a short period of time. Avoid dental work such as crowns, bridges or shaving down the teeth and orthodontic treatments involving permanent changes to the jaw. At best, these measures may not work any better than conservative treatments. At worst, they can cause irreversible damage.

Results and Expectations from Advanced Massage Therapy Center: TJM is caused by a combination of muscular tightness and structural misalignment. After initial therapy, our client should feel immediate pain reduction, the jaw opens wider and easier. Associated pain areas such as the neck or shoulder also should be reduced. With additional therapy the pain will go away. If the pain is chronic, then a maintenance program will be recommended for low pain tolerance control. To read about the Advanced Massage Therapy Center's recommended treatment and relief: CranioSacral, Neuromuscular and Lymphatic Drainage, visit:Therapy Session