TMJ Disorders: What Do These Conditions Entail?

Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders can significantly impact a person’s quality of life due to pain, discomfort, and limitations in jaw function. Bozeman Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeon Dr. Jarom E. Maurer, DMD, specializes in diagnosing and treating TMJ disorders to alleviate symptoms and restore proper function. In this blog post, we will delve into the complexities of TMJ disorders, discussing common symptoms, causes, and various treatment options available to patients.

The temporomandibular joint is a complex joint that connects your lower jaw (mandible) to the temporal bone at the side of your skull. This joint allows you to open and close your mouth for activities such as talking, chewing, and yawning. TMJ disorders are conditions that affect the normal functioning and movement of the joint and the surrounding muscles and can result from numerous causes, including jaw injuries, arthritis, and improper bite alignment.

Throughout this informative post, we will explore the various symptoms associated with TMJ disorders, ranging from pain and tenderness to restricted jaw movement and clicking or popping noises. We will also discuss the potential causes of TMJ disorders, helping you understand the underlying factors contributing to your discomfort. Furthermore, we’ll provide an overview of the diagnostic process and the range of treatment options available, from conservative approaches like medication and occlusal splints to surgical intervention in more severe cases.

By gaining a comprehensive understanding of TMJ disorders, you can approach treatment with confidence, knowing that Dr. Jarom E. Maurer and his team at Bozeman Oral Surgery and Implant Center have the expertise and tools necessary to address your concerns and improve your quality of life.

Symptoms of TMJ Disorders

Recognizing the symptoms of TMJ disorders can help in seeking appropriate care and treatment. Common symptoms include:

  1. Pain and Tenderness: Discomfort in the jaw joint, face, neck, and surrounding areas is a frequent indication of a TMJ disorder.
  2. Restricted Jaw Movement: Difficulty opening or closing the mouth fully or experiencing locking of the jaw can be indicative of a TMJ-related issue.
  3. Clicking or Popping Noises: Audible clicking or popping sounds when opening or closing the mouth may be a sign of a temporomandibular joint disorder.
  4. Ear Symptoms: Patients with TMJ disorders may experience ear-related symptoms, such as pain, pressure, or ringing (tinnitus).

Causes of TMJ Disorders

There are various causes of TMJ disorders, which can include:

  1. Jaw Injuries: Trauma to the jaw from accidents, sports, or dental procedures can lead to TMJ issues if the joint is damaged or displaced.
  2. Arthritis: Inflammatory or degenerative joint conditions, such as osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis, can cause TMJ disorders as the cartilage in the joint becomes damaged or worn.
  3. Dental Occlusion: An improper bite alignment or malocclusion can place excessive stress on the TMJ, leading to a variety of symptoms over time.
  4. Bruxism: Habitual clenching or grinding of teeth (bruxism) can contribute to TMJ disorder development by placing constant pressure on the joint and surrounding muscles.

Diagnosis and Assessment

Diagnostic measures for TMJ disorders often involve a combination of physical examination and imaging studies:

  1. Clinical Evaluation: Dr. Maurer will perform a thorough clinical evaluation, including palpation of the jaw joint and muscles and assessment of jaw motion and function.
  2. Imaging Studies: X-rays, CT scans, or MRI may be used to examine the temporomandibular joint structure and identify any abnormalities or contributing factors.
  3. Bite Analysis: A dental examination may be conducted to evaluate the alignment and occlusion of the teeth, as an improper bite can contribute to TMJ disorders.

Treatment Options for TMJ Disorders

Treatment for TMJ disorders may involve a range of conservative and surgical approaches, depending on the severity and cause of the issue:

  1. Medications: Anti-inflammatory medications, muscle relaxants, or pain relievers may be prescribed to alleviate pain and swelling associated with TMJ disorders.
  2. Occlusal Splints: Custom-made appliances, also known as bite guards or night guards, can help relieve pressure on the jaw joint and prevent teeth grinding or clenching at night.
  3. Physical Therapy: Exercises and stretches targeting the jaw muscles may be recommended to increase mobility, relieve pain, and improve overall TMJ function.
  4. Surgical Intervention: In cases where conservative treatments fail to provide relief or address the root cause of the problem, surgical options can be considered, such as arthroscopic surgery or open joint surgery.

The Role of At-Home Care

In addition to professional treatment, at-home care plays a crucial role in managing TMJ disorders:

  1. Lifestyle Modifications: Limiting jaw movement by avoiding extreme jaw motions like yawning or gum chewing can help alleviate symptoms and prevent further strain on the TMJ.
  2. Stress Management: Since stress is often a contributing factor to teeth clenching and grinding, incorporating relaxation techniques and stress reduction strategies can aid in symptom management.
  3. Moist Heat and Cold Application: Applying moist heat or a cold compress to the affected area can provide temporary relief from pain and inflammation.
  4. Gentle Jaw Stretching and Exercises: Dr. Maurer may recommend specific jaw stretching and exercises to improve mobility, strengthen muscles, and reduce pain.

The Bozeman Oral Surgery and Implant Center Difference

When seeking treatment for TMJ disorders, choosing Dr. Jarom E. Maurer and his team at Bozeman Oral Surgery and Implant Center ensures:

  1. Comprehensive Care: Dr. Maurer provides thorough evaluations and personalized treatment plans designed to address the unique needs of each patient.
  2. Expertise: With years of experience in diagnosing and treating TMJ disorders, Dr. Maurer is well-equipped to provide the highest standard of care to his patients.
  3. Advanced Technology: Bozeman Oral Surgery and Implant Center utilizes the latest diagnostic and treatment technology to deliver optimal results in TMJ disorder management.


Understanding the symptoms, causes, and available treatment options for TMJ disorders can empower you to take charge of your oral health and seek the care you deserve. Dr. Jarom E. Maurer and his team at Bozeman Oral Surgery and Implant Center are committed to helping patients alleviate their discomfort and restore proper function. Schedule a consultation today to begin your journey to improved TMJ health and overall well-being only at our Montana oral surgery and dental implant center.