TMJ and Jaw Pain

General & Cosmetic Dentist serving Hoboken, Jersey City & Hudson County areas of New Jersey


Jaw pain is one of the clearest indications of TMJ disorder. In many instances this pain may extend throughout the head or to the neck and back, making it seem as if the problem lies elsewhere. But if you are experiencing persistent pain in or around your jaw, a thorough neuromuscular dentistry evaluation will be essential in determining if TMJ disorder is the culprit and in finding the most effective way to relieve the pain for good.

Please call 201-792-9400 today to schedule your consultation at our Hoboken dental office.

The Trigeminal Nerve

The trigeminal nerve is the largest nerve in your cranium. It is also responsible for a majority of your body’s sensation input to the brain. Running through your jaw, the trigeminal nerve innervates things including:

  • The joint that connects the teeth to the jaw
  • The jaw joints
  • The muscles that move the jaw

When your jaw is out of alignment due to TMJ disorder, the trigeminal nerve is compressed, resulting in jaw pain, TMJ headaches, and even issues as diverse as ear aches and nasal congestion. Until pressure is relieved, this pain will persist.

What Causes TMJ?

TMJ disorder can be caused by a number of factors, including genetics, arthritis, teeth grinding, jaw injury, and everyday wear and tear. Some of the more common causes of TMJ symptoms or jaw pain can also be allergies, stress, and dental problems. In unique cases, a connective tissue disorder may affect the function of a person’s temporomandibular joint, causing pain when talking, eating, or biting down. Swollen lymph nodes, giant cell arteritis, salivary gland disease, and dental braces may contribute to jaw pain.

What Are the Symptoms of TMJ?

If you have common dental problems or grind your teeth at night, it can be easy to overlook the fact that your jaw pain may become a chronic condition. One of the most tell-tale signs that you could have TMJ disorder is if your jaw pain or discomfort does not improve over time. See Dr. Frank R. DePaola, DDS, FAGD, if you are experiencing the following symptoms with no improvement:

  • Pain in the jaw when talking or eating
  • Pain in the temporomandibular joints
  • Pain in or around the ear; frequent earaches
  • Difficulty chewing or pain while chewing
  • Aching facial pain
  • Clicking or locking of the jaw when opening or closing your mouth

What Does a TMJ Flare-Up Feel Like?

TMJ flare-ups can make your symptoms feel extremely unpleasant. Although they are temporary, they can still be painful. These increased symptoms can make it difficult for patients to eat, drink, or speak, causing distress in their everyday lives. With the right treatments recommended by Dr. DePaola, these flare-ups can be prevented.

Dealing with Jaw Pain

In many instances, the first step Dr. Frank will take in implementing a TMJ treatment plan is muscle relaxation. To accomplish this, he uses a TENS unit which sends gentle electrical pulses throughout your muscles, providing immediate relaxation and relief from pain.

Long-term treatment options recommended by Dr. Frank will vary depending on factors such as the cause of your TMJ and the extent of jaw misalignment. Options may include:

  • ComfortGuard to be worn while sleeping
  • Full time removable neuromuscular orthotic device to be worn all day and night
  • Fixed orthotic device to be worn 24 hours a day
  • Dental restorations
  • DNA Expansion Orthodontic Therapy
  • Orthodontic treatment

What Happens If You Leave TMJ Symptoms Untreated?

If left untreated, TMJ symptoms can lead to chronic pain, preventing patients from eating comfortably. Untreated TMJ symptoms can also lead to major dental issues if the cause of your TMJ is bruxism. These symptoms may also lead to the swelling of facial muscles and muscle spasms near the temporomandibular joint, also known as myofascial pain. In severe cases, TMJ may cause permanent damage to the bones in the jaw. When your symptoms are this severe, your only treatment option will most likely have to be surgery.

The goal of TMJ treatment is twofold: relieve pain and restore alignment. During your neuromuscular evaluation, Dr. Frank will carefully examine your jaw joint to determine the most effective solution for you.

Schedule a TMJ Consultation in Hoboken, NJ

If you live in the Hoboken or Jersey City area and suffer from jaw pain or other TMJ symptoms, please contact The Practice at Maxwell Place using the form at the right side of the page or call 201-792-9400 today to schedule a neuromuscular dentistry evaluation with Dr. Frank DePaola.