TMJ Disorders: Diagnosis, Treatment Options, and Expert Care

woman holding her jaws

Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders are a common medical condition that affects the proper function of the jaw joint and surrounding muscles. Bozeman Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeon, Dr. Jarom E. Maurer, DMD, has extensive experience and knowledge in diagnosing and treating TMJ disorders, offering comprehensive and personalized care to those suffering from this often-debilitating condition. In this blog post, we will explore the causes and symptoms of TMJ disorders, delve into diagnostic methods and treatment options, and discuss how Dr. Maurer can assist you in finding relief from TMJ-related pain and discomfort.

The temporomandibular joint is a unique and complex joint that connects the lower jaw (mandible) to the temporal bone of the skull, enabling the jaw’s essential movements such as chewing, speaking, and yawning. TMJ disorders can result from various factors, including an injury to the jaw, joint misalignment, stress-related grinding and clenching, or degenerative issues such as arthritis. Symptoms of TMJ disorders vary and often include pain in the jaw joint, facial muscles, neck, and shoulders, limited jaw mobility, headaches, toothaches, earaches, and distinctive clicking or popping sounds when opening or closing the mouth.

Throughout this blog post, we will provide an in-depth examination of the diagnostic methods employed by Dr. Maurer, such as physical examination, radiographs, and possibly MRI or CT scans if required, to identify the specific cause of your TMJ disorder. Moreover, we will discuss various nonsurgical treatment options, including medications, stress management, mouthguards, and physical therapy, as well as surgical approaches for more severe cases. Lastly, we will highlight the supportive care and expertise offered by Dr. Maurer and the Bozeman Oral Surgery and Implant Center team, ensuring a comprehensive and informative approach to your TMJ disorder treatment journey.

Causes and Symptoms of TMJ Disorders

Understanding the root causes and recognizing the symptoms of TMJ disorders is essential in seeking proper care and treatment. Common causes of TMJ disorders include:

1. Injury or Trauma: Damage to the jaw joint or surrounding tissues can lead to TMJ disorders.

2. Joint Misalignment: In some cases, irregularities within the jaw joint can cause improper functioning and pain.

3. Stress-Related Teeth Grinding: Excessive teeth grinding or clenching (bruxism) due to stress can lead to TMJ disorders over time.

4. Arthritis: Degenerative joint diseases, such as osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis, can contribute to the development of TMJ disorders.

Symptoms of TMJ disorders vary, but may include:

– Jaw pain or tenderness
– Facial, shoulder, or neck pain
– Limited jaw mobility or locking of the jaw
– Clicking or popping sounds while opening or closing the mouth
– A change in the way the upper and lower teeth fit together
– Headaches, toothaches, or earaches

Diagnosing TMJ Disorders

Proper diagnosis is crucial for the effective treatment of TMJ disorders. Dr. Maurer employs several diagnostic methods to pinpoint the root cause of your TMJ issues:

1. Physical Examination: A thorough examination of the jaw and surrounding structures, as well as a review of your medical and dental history, will help identify potential causes and symptoms.

2. Radiographs: Dental X-rays can provide essential insight into the function and structure of the TMJ, revealing any abnormalities or degeneration.

3. MRI or CT Scans: For more complex cases, advanced imaging techniques like magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computed tomography (CT) scans may be necessary to provide a comprehensive view of the TMJ and surrounding tissues.

Nonsurgical Treatment Options

In many cases, conservative, nonsurgical approaches to treating TMJ disorders can provide significant relief. Common nonsurgical treatment options include:

1. Medications: Over-the-counter pain relievers, anti-inflammatory medications or muscle relaxants can help manage symptoms and alleviate inflammation.

2. Stress Management: Since stress often contributes to teeth grinding and clenching, stress-reduction techniques such as meditation, relaxation exercises, or counseling can help alleviate TMJ-related discomfort.

3. Mouthguards: Custom-fitted mouthguards or splints can provide a protective barrier between upper and lower teeth, reducing the impact of grinding and clenching on the TMJ.

4. Physical Therapy: Working with a physical therapist to develop a personalized regimen of stretching and strengthening exercises can improve jaw mobility and reduce pain associated with TMJ disorders.

Surgical Treatment Options for Severe Cases

In more severe or persistent cases of TMJ disorders, surgical intervention may be necessary to provide relief. Surgical treatment options include:

1. Arthrocentesis: A minimally invasive procedure in which fluid and debris are removed from the joint through small needles inserted into the TMJ.

2. Arthroscopy: A less invasive surgical procedure that uses a small camera, called an arthroscope, to visualize the TMJ and perform necessary corrective measures.

3. Open-Joint Surgery: For severe TMJ disorders, more extensive open-joint surgery may be required to repair or replace the affected joint.

It is essential to consult with Dr. Maurer to discuss your symptoms, why various treatments might not have been effective, and where surgery may be needed. It is typically viewed as a last resort when nonsurgical treatments have failed to provide relief.

The Bozeman Oral Surgery and Implant Center Difference

When seeking care for your TMJ disorder, Dr. Jarom E. Maurer and his team at Bozeman Oral Surgery and Implant Center offer unparalleled expertise and support:

1. Customized Treatment Plans: Dr. Maurer develops a tailored TMJ treatment plan based on your individual needs and the root cause of the disorder.

2. Comprehensive Care: With extensive experience in treating TMJ disorders, Dr. Maurer will guide you through every step of your diagnosis and treatment process.

3. State-of-the-Art Technology: Bozeman Oral Surgery and Implant Center utilizes advanced diagnostic and treatment tools to ensure accurate assessment and effective care.


TMJ disorders can significantly impact your daily life, making essential tasks like eating, talking, and yawning painful and difficult. By understanding the causes, symptoms, and treatment options available, you can take the necessary steps to seek relief and improve your quality of life. Trust the expert care of Dr. Jarom E. Maurer and his team at Bozeman Oral Surgery and Implant Center to help you navigate your TMJ disorder treatment journey and find effective relief from your symptoms. Visit our Montana oral surgery and dental implant center today and take the first step towards a pain-free, comfortable jaw function.