TMJ Disorders: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment Options

xray of mouth

Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders can cause significant discomfort impacting daily life, making it essential to understand the cause and seek expert care. Dr. Jarom E. Maurer, DMD, of Bozeman Oral Surgery and Implant Center, provides comprehensive evaluation and treatment of TMJ disorders, offering relief to patients and enhancing their quality of life. In this informative blog post, we will explore the common causes, symptoms, diagnostic process, and treatment solutions for TMJ disorders.

The TMJ connects the lower jaw (mandible) to the temporal bone of the skull, located in front of the ear on each side of the head. This joint allows for basic mouth functions, such as talking, chewing, and yawning. However, when problems arise within the joint or associated muscles, patients may experience painful TMJ disorders.

Throughout this article, we will discuss the common causes of TMJ disorders, from bruxism and misaligned teeth to trauma and arthritis. We will also delve into the diverse symptoms that patients may experience, from jaw pain to headaches, and difficulty opening or closing the mouth. Furthermore, we will provide insight into the diagnostic process employed by Dr. Maurer to accurately identify and assess TMJ disorders, using advanced imaging and clinical examination techniques. Finally, we will examine the wide range of treatment options available to manage and alleviate TMJ disorder symptoms, including conservative methods, therapeutic approaches, and potential surgical interventions.

Armed with an enhanced understanding of TMJ disorders, you will appreciate the exceptional care and personalized attention provided by Dr. Jarom E. Maurer and his team at Bozeman Oral Surgery and Implant Center.

Causes of TMJ Disorders

TMJ disorders may have various causes. Some of the most common contributors to these disorders include:

1. Bruxism: Teeth grinding or clenching, also known as bruxism, can put excessive pressure on the TMJ and surrounding muscles, leading to TMJ disorders.

2. Misaligned Teeth: An improper bite, due to misaligned teeth or jaw structure, can contribute to TMJ disorders by straining the jaw muscles and joint.

3. Trauma or Injury: Accidents or injuries to the jaw or joint area can lead to TMJ disorders due to direct damage or subsequent inflammation.

4. Arthritis: Degenerative joint diseases, such as osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, can cause inflammation, cartilage deterioration, and stiffness in the TMJ.

Signs and Symptoms of TMJ Disorders

The symptoms of TMJ disorders can vary from patient to patient, with some individuals experiencing more severe symptoms than others. Common signs and symptoms include:

1. Jaw Pain: Pain or tenderness in the jaw, especially when talking, chewing, or yawning, can be indicative of a TMJ disorder.

2. Facial Pain: Aching or discomfort around the side of the face, near the ears, or in the temple area may signal TMJ issues.

3. Limited Mobility: Patients with TMJ disorders may have difficulty opening or closing the mouth, or they may experience locking of the joint.

4. Clicking or Popping: Audible clicking, popping, or grinding sounds when moving the jaw can be symptomatic of a TMJ disorder.

5. Headaches: TMJ disorders can cause tension headaches, frequently occurring in the temple region or the back of the head.

Diagnosing TMJ Disorders

Accurate diagnosis is crucial for the successful treatment of TMJ disorders. Dr. Maurer will use a combination of diagnostic tools and techniques to identify the underlying cause of your discomfort:

1. Clinical Examination: A comprehensive evaluation of your jaw’s range of motion and function allows Dr. Maurer to determine if there is any limitation or discomfort within the TMJ.

2. Palpation: By gently pressing on the jaw and surrounding muscles, Dr. Maurer can assess if there is tenderness, tightness, or inflammation present.

3. Medical and Dental History: A thorough review of your medical and dental history helps Dr. Maurer identify potential contributing factors, such as previous injuries, orthodontic treatments, or arthritis.

4. Imaging: Advanced imaging, such as X-rays or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), may be required to obtain a detailed view of the TMJ and surrounding structures.

TMJ Treatment Options

The treatment approach for TMJ disorders depends upon the underlying cause, severity of symptoms, and individual patient needs. Some of the common treatment options include:

1. Self-Management Techniques: Lifestyle modifications and self-care practices, such as stress reduction, relaxation techniques, and soft food diets, can help relieve minor TMJ symptoms.

2. Oral Appliances: Custom-made dental splints or night guards can alleviate bruxism-induced TMJ disorders by reducing nighttime teeth grinding or clenching.

3. Physical Therapy: Exercises aimed at strengthening and relaxing the jaw muscles, as well as ultrasound therapy or joint mobilization, may be beneficial in managing TMJ disorders.

4. Medications: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), muscle relaxants, or corticosteroids may be prescribed to relieve pain and reduce inflammation.

5. Surgical Interventions: In cases where conservative treatments are not effective, surgical options such as arthroscopy, open joint surgery, or joint replacement may be considered.

The Bozeman Oral Surgery and Implant Center Difference

Dr. Jarom E. Maurer and the Bozeman Oral Surgery and Implant Center team go above and beyond to provide a superior TMJ disorder treatment experience:

1. Personalized Care: Dr. Maurer works closely with each patient to develop a tailored treatment plan, offering the best possible outcomes.

2. Expertise: Dr. Maurer’s extensive experience and training in oral and maxillofacial surgery assure exceptional care in diagnosing and treating TMJ disorders.

3. State-of-the-Art Technology: Bozeman Oral Surgery and Implant Center uses cutting-edge diagnostic tools and treatment techniques to provide the highest level of care.


Understanding the causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment options for TMJ disorders is crucial for successfully addressing and managing the condition. With expert care from Dr. Jarom E. Maurer and the team at Bozeman Oral Surgery and Implant Center, you can trust that your oral health is in skilled hands. Don’t let TMJ disorders impact your quality of life – schedule a consultation with a Bozeman oral surgery specialist today to take control of your TMJ health and find lasting relief.