The temporomandibular joint, or TMJ, has a tendency to cause dental patients pain.  Dentists refer to this condition as TMD which stands for temporomandibular dysfunction or disorder.

What is my TMJ?

The temporomandibular joint connects your skull’s temporal bone to your lower jaw bone, or mandible.  It acts as a hinge allowing your jaw to move up and down and side to side. The TMJ is located below the ears on either side of your face.

Why do I have TMJ pain?

A variety of reasons cause TMJ pain.  From arthritis to genetics, stress to facial injuries, when your temporomandibular joint isn’t functioning properly, the pain can seem unbearable.  Let’s look more closely at the causes:


Patients predisposed due to genetics may suffer from TMD. Additionally, more women than men have been known to experience TMD. This may be due to bone structure and inherent factors.


Osteoarthritis wears down the bones and TMJs which can lead to temporomandibular joint pain. The inflammation causes added stress on the joint resulting in TMD.


Lifestyles and work may cause you to tense your jaw or clench your teeth, adding pressure to your temporomandibular joints. This promotes early wear and tear and causes TMD.

Grinding or Clenching Teeth

Unconsciously clenching of the teeth or tooth grinding may go unnoticed until you experience pain from the erosion of the joints’ support. As the joint breaks down, TMD is an issue.


Facial injuries or jaw dislocations from an accident are traumas that lead to TMD. Even the slightest change to your tooth and jaw alignment can put unwanted stress on your TMJ.

Can I relieve TMD pain?

Fortunately, many options exist for treating TMD. From non-invasive therapy to advanced professional treatments, our dentist can work with you to eliminate or manage the pain that your TMJ issues are causing. Some of the recommend methods follow:


Switch to a soft food diet when TMJ pain is present. The soft foods will give your joints a period of rest while you are still able to receive the nutrients your body needs.

Cold and Hot Treatment

Ice packs and warm, damp washcloths alternated every 20 minutes, 3-4 times each day can reduce inflammation and relax the muscles that control your TMJ.


Over the counter medications and stronger prescription medications have the ability to reduce inflammation and pain, thus easing the discomfort of a TMJ issue.

Reduce Stress

Stress reduction techniques such as breathing exercises, facial massages, and mediation are helpful in decreasing the pressure on your temporomandibular joint, thus alleviating the pain.

Physical Therapy

Your dentist or a physical therapist is knowledgeable in facial exercises and therapy that will reduce TMJ pain. Gentle exercises and massages work toward eliminating pain cause by your TMJ.

Night Guards

Our dentist can fit you for a night guard which creates a small space between your upper and lower jaws, reducing the pressure you are placing on your joints.

Dental Work

Missing teeth or a misaligned bite is often the cause of TMD. Restorative dental procedures eliminate any stress on your joints and repair your bite and teeth functions to return them to their proper place.

DeBonis Family Dentistry works closely with medical professionals specializing in TMD in Ross Township, Ingomar, Sewickley, Coraopolis, Glenshaw, and their surrounding areas in order to deliver the best treatments possible.

How is TMD diagnosed?

If jaw pain is present, it is recommended to call our dentist as soon as possible.  If you’ve experienced chronic or acute pain in your face and jaw, consult with our team in order to remedy the situation as quickly as possible.  At your appointment, we will examine the area and discuss…

  • Any difficulty opening and closing your mouth
  • Tired or sore feelings in your facial muscles
  • Difficulty chewing foods
  • Tenderness in the joint, ears, and neck area
  • Lockjaw
  • Facial swelling
  • Difficulty in speech

These symptoms may be a sign of TMJ issues.  A professional diagnosis is recommended in order to thoroughly treat existing or underlying issues.

DeBonis Family Dentistry is focused on your oral health as well as TMJ issues that could lead to TMD.  We’ll examine your bite, inspect your oral cavity, and use X-rays to determine the cause of your pain. Should additional images be required, we will work with the areas professionals to ensure your pain is managed in a timely manner.

DeBonis Family Dentistry has treated patients with a variety of TMJ issues for years. If you are concerned about your temporomandibular joints, give us a call at (412) 761-9594.  We will find a time that works for you to conveniently come in and see us.

Our extensive knowledge of TMD diagnoses and treatments means that your oral health is in great hands.