TMJ Orofacial Disorders Center

TMJ Specialists & Dental Sleep Medicine located in Seattle, WA

An estimated 5 to 12% of adults in the United States suffer from TMJ, according to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. At the TMJ Orofacial Disorders Center in Seattle, skilled dentist and TMJ and orofacial pain specialist, Jason Pehling, DDS, MS, knows that TMJ isn’t just a painful jaw. TMJ often involves frustrating headaches, ear symptoms, jaw popping and neck pain hampering your daily life. Drs. Pehling and Gupta and the compassionate medical professionals offer solutions to help you find relief. Call the office for your specialty appointment.


What is TMJ?

The medical condition TMJ (temporomandibular joint disorder) involves problems with your temporomandibular joint. 

Your jaw hinge joint connects your skull bones to your jaw allowing you to chew your food, swallow, kiss, sing, and talk.

It is one of the most used joints in your body and just like your knee, it has cartilage and meniscus which act as shock absorbers for the bones.  

What causes TMJ?

TMJ might be associated with jawbone, ligament or muscle complications due to various factors, such as:

  • Accident, trauma, or injury to your jaw, or neck (whiplash)
  • Inflammation from certain medical conditions
  • Stress, jaw clenching, and teeth grinding and head posture
  • Arthritis

Some of the more serious complications of TMJ include bone damage, face changes, locked jaw, bite shifting, and difficulty chewing. Jaw popping and clicking happen when the meniscus gets shifted out of position leading to compression on the nerves and wear on the bone. 

What are the symptoms of TMJ?

The main symptoms of TMJ include moderate to severe pain, discomfort, and soreness in the jaw hinge joint in front of the ear and pain in the ear, neck, head and jaw.

You might have other TMJ symptoms, such as:

  • Clicking, grating, and popping sounds coming from your jaw joint when you move it
  • Toothaches
  • Pain and tenderness in the hinge joint spreading to the ears, neck, and shoulders
  • Issues when you attempt to open your mouth wide
  • Locked jaw
  • Earaches, tinnitus, and dizziness
  • Facial swelling
  • Difficulty chewing
  • headaches and migraines
  • bite shifting
  • facial asymmetry

 You might also have hearing difficulty or hear ringing noises in your ears (tinnitus).

How is TMJ treated?

The TMJ Orofacial Disorders Center offers effective treatments for TMJ, depending on the cause and severity. Treatment is aimed at the mechanical cause of the problem, just like it would be for a knee problem.  

Oral appliances are often needed to realign the lower jaw bone and disk.  They can also be used balance out misaligned bites and take pressure off of the pain sensitive area within the jaw joint.  Although they may look similar to a nightguard they are designed differently and require additional skill and monitoring of them.  Nightguards are meant only to protect the teeth from wear and may in some cases worsen TMJ problems and sleep apnea.  There are many different types of oral appliances and Drs. Pehling and Gupta have effectively together delivered over 10,000 oral appliances giving them the expertise to know how best to address your problem. 

In some cases, Drs. Pehling and Gupta might offer medications, such as anti-inflammatories, nerve medications and muscle relaxants. Jaw exercises are also an important part of your treatment. 

The TMJ Orofacial Disorders Center team also provides referrals to physical therapy, massage therapy, osteopathic, and chiropractic providers. We find that jaw disorders are commonly associated with other muskuloskeletal problems such as neck, shoulders, back and hips.  We use an integrative approach such as the Postural Restoration Institute and we offer a combined approach where specialized physical therapists come to our office in order to help align the jaw with the full body posture.  

Drs. Pehling and Gupta have been extensively trained in the use of therapeutic injections including steroids, Botox, prolotherapy, hyaluronic acid, and trigger point injections and IMS

Dr. Pehling and Gupta are also experienced in manual therapies such as jaw manipulation and myofascial release. 

TMJ arthrocentesis and Ultra-thin TMJ arthroscopy are minimally invasive TMJ surgeries provided in the office. Dr. Pehling has been certified in the use of the Biomet Ultra-thin arthroscope — a procedure using an arthroscope instrument to view inside your jaw joint, wash out the area, remove scar tissue, and free up disk.   

In about 1% of cases will require a more significant surgical procedure in which you will be reffered to a TMJ surgeon for combined care.  Also in some cases the position that the teeth bite holds the jaw causes stress and tension into the TMJ and it is then necessary to correct the bite.  

If you’re tired of hurting and these symptoms are affecting your quality of life, call the TMJ Orofacial Disorders Center today.  There are effective solutions to your problem