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What are TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint) Disorders?

TMJ disorders refer to problems in the jaw muscles, temporomandibular joints (located in front of the ear), and/or the nerves.

You should seek care if pain is intense or if you have the following symptoms for three to six months:

  • Pain in your jaw muscles, TMJ (where your jaw connects to your skull) or both
  • Jaw locking, or clicking or grating sounds in your jaw joint
  • Pain while chewing food
  • Headaches

Eastman Dental and the University Dental Faculty Group have an entire team of experts to serve you.

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UR Medicine's Approach

At your first appointment, you’ll receive a clinical exam and X-rays to evaluate your jaw bones and teeth. We’ll determine if dental treatments would help alleviate your pain or if a referral to another specialist—such as a physician, neurologist, or a headache specialist—may be necessary.

The newest technique for diagnosing TMJ is through an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging). MRIs show the bone and soft tissue, and especially the disk. An MRI to diagnose a TMJ disorder is noninvasive and requires no injections.

Both a physical exam and imaging can help determine the cause of pain. Occasionally, joint disorders are treated with surgery.

The cause of a TMJ disorder isn't always clear. Trauma is thought to be the cause in some cases. And not all patients with pain in front of the ear or facial pain have TMJ disease. Physical therapy, rehabilitation, and muscle treatment are often the most important conservative measures.

What Sets Us Apart?

Eastman Institute for Oral Health includes dentists taking part in additional training to be specialists in many different areas of dentistry. We’re experts and leaders in the field who are teaching the next generation of leading clinicians and scientists.

As researchers, as well, we’re working on breakthrough discoveries in all aspects of oral health. We’ve also been committed to serving the community in the spirit of our namesake, George Eastman, by providing quality care to the needy—something we’ve been doing since 1915.


Our care team is here for you. Find a UR Medicine expert and get care now.

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