TMJ Symptoms and How to Prevent Them

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About Dr. Peter Zwier

For over 30 years, Dr. Peter J. Zwier has been providing a broad range of general and cosmetic dental services to Grand Rapids, meeting the needs of your whole family in one convenient location. Your oral health is extremely important to your body’s wellbeing, and a beautiful smile is a wonderful asset at any age.

Temporomandibular Joint, or more commonly known as TMJ, is the joint that connects your lower jaw to the skull at the temporal bone. TMD, or temporomandibular dysfunction, is the condition of pain in the TMJ area, or in the muscles involved with chewing.

If this joint is injured, inflamed, or simply doesn’t work properly, it can cause a multitude of symptoms, which should always be addressed by a dental professional. Patients in Grand Rapids, Michigan, can visit Dr. Peter Zwier to discuss their TMJ symptoms.


What causes TMD symptoms?

Many patients suffer from TMD and don’t understand the underlying cause of the condition. Troubling TMD symptoms may be due to a misalignment of the teeth, injury, or excessive muscle tension. Additionally, this complex joint has cartilage and five muscles that are involved in the area. So, if one thing goes wrong, many problems can arise.

Common Symptoms of TMD

The most common symptom of TMD is pain in the jaw joint, which is straightforward. However, there are various symptoms that patients should be aware of, including:

  • Pop or click in the jaw
  • Frequent headaches or earaches
  • Pain in the jaw muscles
  • Difficulty opening or closing the mouth
  • Soreness of the area, which may extend to the face
  • Neck or jaw stiffness
  • The jaw seems to be “stuck” open or “locked” nearly shut

If you experience these symptoms, you should seek a professional opinion. Dr. Zwier performs many treatments for TMJ complications, including fabricating a bite splint designed for your specific TMD problems, adjusting the bite, replacing missing teeth, and repositioning teeth. He will also provide homecare recommendations to improve your persistent symptoms.

How to Prevent these Symptoms

Although there is no one solution for all TMD cases, there are ways to prevent these persistent symptoms. It is important to remember that TMD symptoms may come and go based on your lifestyle, managing symptoms, and managing stress. Common prevention techniques may include:

  • Eat only soft, smaller foods
  • Don’t chew gum
  • Correct jaw issues, like misalignment, with the help of your dentist
  • Wear a plastic mouthpiece to prevent clenching or grinding
  • Manage stress with relaxation techniques
  • Take medication to ease symptoms

If left untreated, TMD complications may become extreme and require surgery to repair the damaged joint. However, proactive prevention methods and a trip to your East Grand Rapids dentist can help ensure a positive outcome of TMD.

At Dr. Zwier’s office, their philosophy is to start treatment as conservative as possible and only gradually escalate treatment as necessary. The reason for this philosophy is due to research showing that approximately seven years from the beginning of TMD symptoms, the results end up similar whether the patient receives minimal treatment, surgical treatment, or full mouth rehabilitation to eliminate the painful symptoms of TMD.

To learn more about TMD or TMJ complications, and what you can do to prevent these symptoms, contact our office today!