Understanding TMJ

Have you ever experienced discomfort or pain in the area around your jaw, specifically in the joint that connects your jaw to your skull? This could be a sign of Temporomandibular Disorder (TMD), often referred to as TMJ. TMD can present itself in several forms, including clicking or popping sounds when moving your mouth, headaches, or unexplained facial pain. These symptoms are potential indicators of the disorder and warrant attention.

At Chittenden Sleep, we recognize the importance of addressing such symptoms, as they can impact your overall quality of life and may be related to other conditions like sleep apnea or snoring. If you’re experiencing any of these signs, it’s advisable to consult with a healthcare professional for a proper diagnosis and to explore potential treatment options.

You’re certainly not alone if you’re dealing with Temporomandibular Disorder (TMD). This condition can arise from various causes, such as jaw injuries, teeth grinding (which some people do in their sleep), stress, or misaligned teeth.

The encouraging news is that there are effective ways to manage and treat TMD. The first step is getting a proper diagnosis. A consultation with a healthcare professional, like those at Chittenden Sleep, can provide a thorough examination to determine the root cause of your symptoms.

Treatment strategies vary depending on the individual’s specific situation. Simple self-care measures, like eating softer foods, applying warm compresses, and avoiding excessive jaw movements, can be quite helpful. In some cases, physical therapy and pain medications may also provide relief.

For those concerned about surgery, it’s important to know that it’s typically considered only as a last resort for severe cases of TMD. The most important thing is to consult with a healthcare provider who can create a personalized treatment plan for you. They will help identify the underlying cause of your TMD and guide you toward effective steps for alleviation.

Remember, TMD is a treatable condition, and there are solutions tailored to your needs. If you think you might be experiencing symptoms of TMD, don’t hesitate to reach out to Chittenden Sleep for a consultation and guidance on managing this jaw-related issue.

Origins of Temporomandibular Joint Disorder

While trauma to the jaw joint or surrounding tissues can lead to a TMJ disorder, it’s essential to note that not all TMJ disorders stem from trauma. Here are some common causes of TMD:

Typical TMD Symptoms?

TMJ disorders are more prevalent in women aged 20 to 40 than in men. Here are some common symptoms of TMJ:


It’s essential to recognize that sounds originating from the TMJs (like clicking or popping) without associated pain or dysfunction are quite common and even regarded as normal by some. In certain instances, these noises never result in any complications. Nevertheless, similar to any other joint in your body, persistent popping or joint noise is not considered normal and may potentially lead to future issues. The recommended approach is to have it examined by a qualified professional.


Temporomandibular Disorders (TMDs) are unique and typically necessitate a professional evaluation for accurate diagnosis, as it can be difficult to pinpoint these conditions on your own. This is due to the often unclear causes and symptoms associated with TMDs.

At Chittenden Sleep, a thorough documentation of your symptoms and comprehensive medical history will be undertaken, including questions about the location, frequency, triggers, and severity of your pain, and whether it remains localized or spreads to other areas. If you are experiencing other types of pain, like headaches or backaches, it’s important to schedule a consultation promptly.

Additionally, a detailed examination of your head, neck, face, and jaw will be carried out to check for signs of pain, jaw clicking or popping, or movement difficulties. Chittenden Sleep may also recommend imaging tests such as x-rays, MRI, or CT scans for a more in-depth assessment.

It’s important to understand that TMDs might not always be the root cause of mouth, jaw, or facial pain. Before confirming a TMD diagnosis, other dental problems or underlying medical conditions need to be ruled out. This comprehensive approach ensures an accurate diagnosis and an effective treatment plan tailored to your specific needs.

Home Remedies

You can attempt a couple of simple measures to alleviate your jaw discomfort.


Treatment Options

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy focuses on movement and physical function, aiming to maintain, enhance, or restore joint functionality. There are various forms of physical therapy, and one approach involves therapists utilizing manual therapy to stretch the muscles and soft tissues around the joint through hands-on techniques. This method has shown associations with both pain relief and improved functionality.



In addressing your symptoms, Dr. Mike Morris may propose one or multiple medications. It’s important to note that medications for TMJ issues are typically aimed at providing temporary pain relief and are not a long-term solution. The most frequently recommended medications are nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), which are available over-the-counter for pain management.


Oral Appliance Therapy

Dental orthotics, which are specialized devices, serve as a targeted intervention by covering the teeth and repositioning the jaw. This action alleviates pressure on the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), functioning much like crutches supporting an injured knee or ankle. It’s noteworthy that these devices do not bring about permanent alterations to the bite or teeth structure.

Despite potential confusion with nightguards, occlusal splints, interocclusal splints, or bruxism splints, the pivotal distinction lies in the primary purpose of our dental orthotics. They are expressly crafted to enhance the positioning of the jaw, with a specific focus on benefiting the TMJ, as opposed to merely safeguarding the teeth.


Medical & Surgical Solutions

These procedures entail the insertion of objects into your temporomandibular joints or chewing muscles, as well as modifications to your teeth and bite, or a combination of these approaches. However, some, like occlusal therapies, prove ineffective and might even worsen the condition. Surgical options are seldom recommended and are considered a last resort, with a preference for conservative therapies.

If you’re experiencing significant jaw pain that is affecting your quality of life, consult with Dr. Mike Morris of Chittenden Sleep in Burlington VT. Whether you’re grappling with TMJ issues, jaw pain, teeth grinding, or any symptoms addressing the problem can help you return to a pain-free life sooner.