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Everything You Need to Know About Chronic Jaw Pain (TMJ)

TMJ, also known as TMD or chronic jaw pain, refers to issues relating to the pain around the face where the lower jaw bone (the mandible) and the bones of the skull in front of each ear (temporal bones) meet. November marks TMJ Awareness Month — a time to highlight this often under-diagnosed issue that many people suffer with silently. Dr. Reyes and his dental team in Lorton are here to help alleviate your TMJ symptoms!

What Do TMJ and TMD Stand For?

While TMJ and TMD are used interchangeably, a temporomandibular disorder (TMD) refers to the issues that affect the temporomandibular joints (TMJ), the jaw joints.

What are the Symptoms of TMJ/TMD?

If you experience any symptoms of TMJ, it’s important to give your Lorton dentist a call so we can examine these issues and provide treatment options for you. Look out for the following signs:

  • Pain or fatigue around your jaw muscles and area in front of your ears

  • Popping/clicking noise when you’re chewing

  • Jaw locking or limited movement in the jaw

  • Persistent headaches or migraines

  • Earaches or ringing in your ears (tinnitus)

  • Restricted movement of your jaw bone/muscles

TMJ issues can occur for a variety of reasons, including but not limited to: having a misaligned bite, experiencing trauma or injury to the jaw or mouth area, or if you suffer from autoimmune diseases or arthritis.

What are the Treatment Options for TMJ/TMD?

Some symptoms of TMJ pain can be soothed using at-home treatments such as using a cold pack on your jaw, using stress management methods to reduce jaw tension, eating soft foods, and avoiding chewing gum. These should provide some relief until you reach our dental office in Lorton where treatment options may include creating a custom bite guard, straightening your bite, or referring you for physical therapy or surgery. Dr. Reyes will perform a thorough examination and help you choose the most conservative plan for your individual needs.


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