TMJ

Jason Pehling, DDS, MS -  - TMJ Specialist

TMJ Orofacial Disorders Center

Jason Pehling, DDS, MS

TMJ Specialist & Dental Sleep Medicine located in Seattle, WA & Bainbridge Island, 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. Dr. Pehling and the compassionate medical professionals offer solutions to help you find relief. Call the office or use the online scheduling tool.

TMJ Q & A

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 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
  • Arthritis

Some of the more serious complications of TMJ include bone damage, face changes, locked jaw, scar tissue, 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 and the surrounding area.

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, headaches, and dizziness
  • Facial swelling
  • Difficulty chewing

 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 for a knee problem.  

In some cases, Dr. Pehling might offer medications, such as anti-inflammatories, nerve medications and muscle relaxants. Jaw exercises are also helpful. 

The TMJ Orofacial Disorders Center team also provides referrals to physical therapy, massage therapy, osteopathic, and chiropractic providers. 

Dr. Pehling might recommend an oral appliance or orthotic to realign the mandible, take the pressure off of the bones and nerves, and improve the disk position. This is very different from a nightguard. Nightguards can actually worsen TMJ symptoms at times. 

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

Dr. Pehling is also experienced in manual therapies such as jaw manipulation and Spray-and-stretch. 

TMJ arthrocentesis and 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.   

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