Am I At Risk For TMJ?

A young woman with brown hair and a sweater holds her jaw because of her TMJ pain.

Am I At Risk For TMJ?

Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) disorder can significantly impact your daily life. It presents through a group of conditions and affects millions of people worldwide. Knowing the symptoms and risk factors and then seeking proper treatments are essential steps for managing this issue. Dr. Margaret Mitchell, a successful TMJ dentist, offers expert care for TMJ sufferers at Mitchell Dental Spa.

What is TMJ?

TMJ disorder encompasses a range of conditions affecting the temporomandibular joint, a pivotal hinge that connects the jaw to the skull. This joint facilitates essential functions like talking, chewing, and yawning. When this joint is compromised, a spectrum of symptoms can manifest, including:

  • Jaw locking
  • Persistent headaches
  • Clicking sounds during jaw movement
  • Pain and discomfort in the ear, jaw, neck, and shoulders

Understanding these symptoms is the first step in recognizing the need for professional evaluation and treatment.

Risk Factors for TMJ

You may ask, “Am I at risk of TMJ?” Understanding the wide range of factors that can increase the risk of developing TMJ disorders is crucial for early detection and intervention. Here’s a breakdown of the risk factors for TMJ:

Age and Gender

TMJ disorders are most common in people between 20 and 40 years of age. Generally, women are more affected than men, as hormonal or anatomical differences come into play.


People with a family history of TMJ disorders may inherit certain traits, like a specific jaw structure or the composition of their joint tissue, making them more prone to similar issues.

Bruxism (Teeth Grinding or Clenching)

Stress and anxiety can lead to physical manifestations like increased muscle tension and involuntary jaw clenching or teeth grinding. These reactions aggravate the signs of bruxism and cause pain and dysfunction even in individuals who previously didn’t exhibit any symptoms.

Stress and Anxiety

Stress and anxiety can lead to physical manifestations like increased muscle tension and involuntary jaw clenching or teeth grinding. These reactions exacerbate bruxism and cause pain and dysfunction even in individuals who previously didn’t exhibit any symptoms.

Chronic Gum Chewing or Nail Biting

Frequent gum chewing or nail biting stresses the jaw muscles and TMJ, potentially leading to overuse syndromes. Over time, it strains the joint and surrounding muscles, causing severe discomfort.

Poor Posture

Poor posture can lead to tension and misalignment in the upper body. This pressure can extend to the muscles and ligaments around the jaw, affecting the TMJ and leading to pain and discomfort.

Dietary Habits

A diet that demands excessive chewing or consists of mostly hard foods can place additional stress on the TMJ. This can lead to fatigue and pain, so modifying your diet and alleviating this strain is essential.

Physical Trauma and Injury

Trauma to the jaw or face, such as a blow or impact sustained during sports, can directly impact the TMJ, leading to immediate or delayed symptoms. Rapid forward and backward movement, like whiplash or neck injuries, can also alter the mechanics of the jaw joint and muscles.

The Role of a TMJ Specialist

A TMJ specialist, like Dr. Margaret Mitchell, is instrumental in diagnosing and treating TMJ disorders. Dr. Mitchell’s expertise in non-invasive and surgical treatments and her commitment to patient education ensure a personalized and practical approach to TMJ management. It can help you provide targeted treatment and relief.

Mitigating TMJ Risk

Dr. Mitchell at Mitchell Dental Spa offers a range of TMJ treatment options tailored to individual needs. Each method targets different aspects of the disorder for a multifaceted approach to management and recovery.

Oral Appliances

Mouthguards are the most common devices custom-made and fitted by a TMJ dentist to address associated issues. These prevent bruxism, creating a physical barrier between the upper and lower teeth to reduce the stress on the jaw joints and protect the teeth from wear. Oral appliances like mouthguards can also help correct misalignment issues for a more natural jaw position and movement.


Over-the-counter (OTC) medications like ibuprofen are commonly used to manage TMJ-associated pain and inflammation. These can temporarily relieve discomfort and swelling, making it easier to participate in physical therapy, stress management, etc. In some cases, more potent prescription medications may be advised depending on the severity of the symptoms.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapies often involve a series of exercises for strengthening the jaw muscles, improving mobility, and enhancing the function of the jaw joint. Common techniques may include massaging, stretching, and ultrasound to reduce pain and inflammation, preventing future problems.

Stress Management

Stress can significantly worsen TMJ symptoms, leading to increased jaw clenching and teeth grinding. Techniques like mindfulness, meditation, yoga, and deep breathing exercises can help reduce stress levels, indirectly improving TMJ symptoms. It also helps prevent the escalation of future symptoms.

Dietary Changes

Adjusting your diet to include less chewy or crunchy foods and implementing smaller bites can reduce the strain on the jaw. Besides, nutritional counseling can benefit you in supporting your TMJ healing journey.

TMJ and Botox

Botox for TMJ are a more recent treatment option and are helpful when other therapies don’t work. Botox can be injected into the jaw muscles, reducing tension and pain. This can be particularly beneficial when your symptoms are caused by muscle overactivity. It’s important to note that only an experienced healthcare professional can administer Botox injections to ensure safety and efficacy.

Schedule Your TMJ Consultation Today

If you were already looking through the “TMJ specialist near me” search results online, you found the right dentist. Experience relief from TMJ pain with a personalized treatment plan from Dr. Margaret Mitchell today. Contact Dr. Mitchell to get started on your journey toward a life free from TMJ-related discomfort. Call (312) 642-1014 to discover the dental well-being and change you deserve.


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