TMJ Dentist

TMJ Dentist

TMJ Specialist Chicago

TMJ (tempomandibular joint) may seem like just another medical acronym, but it plays a vital role in your everyday activities. TJM pain can lead to a deteriorating quality of life. Are you looking for a TMJ specialist in Chicago? If so, we invite you to schedule a consultation by calling (312) 642-1014.

During your first appointment, we will conduct a gentle examination and ask questions in order to understand the full extent of your symptoms and how they are impacting you on a daily basis. It is critical that you see a dentist that appreciates the nature of TMJ and the need for caution during dental care. Otherwise, you could further irritate your jaw and muscles, leading to further discomfort.

Whether you want to understand your symptoms, are browsing through treatment options, or are just curious about TMJ, here’s what you must know about TMJ and how Dr. Margaret Mitchell can help you reclaim a pain-free life.



What is TMJ?

Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) is responsible for controlling your jaw movement. Simply, it’s a hinge connecting your jaw to your skull, allowing you to chew, talk, and yawn. When something goes wrong with your TMJ, it can cause pain, discomfort, and restricted jaw movement. TMJ disorders also may be a factor with increased headaches.

A temporomandibular disorder (TMD) is much more than a mere jaw problem. Even a minor issue can affect how your jaw functions and cause pain impacting the overall quality of your life. Understanding the impact TMD can have on your well-being can lead to better pain management, as TMD can be a significant hurdle to being pain-free and living your life to its fullest.

Types of TMJ Problems

TMJ disorders generally fall into three categories:

  • Myogenous TMJ problems are the most common type of TMD associated with myofascial pain, accounting for over 80% of the total. Myogenous TMJ disorders involve muscle related pain and manifest as discomfort in the jaw, temple, neck or shoulder muscles–especially upon waking. It’s like a constant companion that can affect your entire being, from savoring a morning coffee to joining in on a family reunion. This wouldn’t just be a minor inconvenience but like a neverending assault, requiring immediate treatment and care. This type of TMJ problem responds well to BOTOX® treatments and nightguards that control clenching. Nightguards that only treat grinding are typically much less effective (these are the type found in drugstores).
  • Internal derangement of the jaw: TMJ disorders can also involve jaw joint generated pain. This results from internal derangement of the TMJ, which can involve a dislocated jaw, displaced disc within the TMJ or injury to the condyles (the rounded ends of the lower jaw that fit up into the jaw joint). This type of disorder presents real challenges. Your jaw won’t open correctly, you might experience a sharp pain, and the jaw’s mechanics may have gone a little off-track.
  • Degenerative Joint Disease: These conditions include diagnoses like osteoarthritis and/or rheumatoid arthritis in the TMJ. In these instances, the joint that has helped you talk and chew all these years may have started to degrade or wear out. This can lead to stiffness, changes in how your teeth fit together, and a grating sensation.

Many TMJ problems can be treated by dentists. However, internal derangements and degenerative joint disease may require the additional involvement of a physician.

Causes of TMJ and the Link to Stress

The exact cause of TMJ disorders is often difficult to determine. It can result from a multitude of factors factors including genetics, arthritis, and previous or a new jaw injury. Stress can be a significant component, often leading to teeth grinding or clenching, which often aggravates TMJ symptoms. These unconscious habits, especially prevalent during sleep, put excessive pressure on the TMJ, leading to pain and discomfort. Other factors, like poor posture, especially while using a computer, laptop, or mobile device, can strain the neck and facial muscles, further worsening TMJ issues. Understanding your triggers is important because it highlights that TMJ is not just a dental or jaw issue but can be a whole-body health concern influenced by factors like lifestyle choices, everyday habits, and even mental well-being.

TMJ Problems in Women vs. Men

When examining TMJ problems, women are more frequently and severely affected than men. How? Why? Let’s highlight the differences.

Prevalence & Intensity: Women between the ages of 18 and 44 report TMJ pain more frequently and intensely than men. Their symptoms, including pain and motion impairment, are usually more chronic.

Hormonal Influences: Estrogen plays a crucial role in TMJ disorders. It affects the pain sensitivity and joint inflammation of women more severely. Hormonal changes, such as menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause, can worsen these symptoms.

Stress and Lifestyle Habits: Women’s stress response, including habits like jaw clenching and teeth grinding, often worsens TMD. The stress of balancing multiple roles, such as work and family, adds to the tension in the jaw and neck muscles, aggravating TMJ problems.

Pain Perception and Management: Women experience and manage pain differently due to biological and psychosocial factors. This often results in higher TMJ diagnosis rates as they are also likelier to seek medical assistance.

Treatment and Research: One size doesn’t fit all. Effective TMJ treatment demands customized strategies. Some of the important ones include stress management and balancing hormones, especially for women. However, there is a need for more gender-specific studies to understand the biological, social, and psychological factors behind the gender disparities led by TMD. Dr. Mitchell will always present a customized treatment plan for your specific needs.

Diagnosis of TMJ

Diagnosing TMJ problems involves a thorough analysis of your jaw and a discussion of your symptoms. Our TMJ specialist Dr. Mtichell, an experienced TMJ dentist may also conduct a dental X-ray, CT scan, or MRI. This information helps get a clear view of your jaw health and alignment. In the world of TMJ, knowledge is not just power – it is the right way to gain relief.

Getting a TMJ diagnosis might also sound like a never-ending journey, but it is a journey worth taking. With the right diagnosis and treatment plan, Dr. Mitchell will help you return to your usual life, a life without jaw pain and relishing that hearty meal, talking non-stop, or simply yawning without pain.

Treatment of Low Level, Episodic TMJ Problems

In some cases, TMJ pain can go away without major intervention, but it usually requires some management. Milder issues often respond well to self-managed care. You may start by consuming soft foods more often to put less stress on the jaw. Use an ice pack to decrease inflammation in the affected area. Steer clear of extreme jaw movements, such as wide yawning or extensive chewing, to not aggravate the symptoms. Engage in gentle jaw mobility exercises to ease any muscle tension. Some OTC pain relievers (as suggested by a doctor) can also help with pain and inflammation.

TMJ Treatment of Prolonged TMJ Pain

For more severe or prolonged TMJ pain, treatment methods may include the following:

  • Prescription medication, including muscle relaxants, anti-inflammatory drugs, and even certain antidepressants, may be given for intense pain and inflammation.
  • Exercises that strengthen and stretch the jaw muscles help improve mobility and reduce pain.
  • Ultrasound and moist heat therapy also help relieve muscle tension and improve joint function.
  • Oral splints or mouth guards can be particularly helpful for those who grind their teeth or have a misaligned bite.
  • Counseling or therapy can be an effective part of treatment for stress management. This approach addresses physical symptoms and the psychological aspects related to the issue.
  • You may also be suggested a combination of treatments, including all of the above, to get to the root cause of TMJ and address the concerns effectively.
  • Surgical intervention may be suggested to fix extreme cases only after a comprehensive evaluation

Other Types of TMJ Therapy

TMJ dentists like those at the Mitchell Dental Spa rely on nightguard therapy to control TMJ pain. Depending on the severity of an individual’s TMJ problem, though, cold laser treatments, hot-cold therapy, and cranial sacral massage can also be useful. The Mitchell Dental Spa offers all of these.


Botox®, commonly known for its cosmetic use, has emerged as a potent treatment option for TMJ disorders. If you’re looking for something less aggressive, Botox® may be suitable for your needs. When injected by Dr. Mitchell, an experienced TMJ dentist, it can help relax the overreacting jaw muscles, relieving surrounding tension, TMJ headaches, and facial pain. Botox® for TMJ can be a minimally invasive alternative to those extensive surgical procedures. The treatment process is relatively quick and safe and can be performed at our dental office with minimal impact to your day. Ideally, the treatment can last for a few weeks to several months. During this period, you may experience significant relief in pain and improvement in jaw functioning.

Remember: It’s essential to have a complete evaluation of your jaw health and thoroughly discuss your options with our Dr. Mitchell. This will help determine if you are a good candidate for Botox® TMJ treatment and what to expect going forward.

Your Healing Journey Begins Here

TMJ pain can be excruciating. It doesn’t have to be something you have to live with forever. Understanding your condition, managing triggers, and seeking proper care can help you bid goodbye to TMD and its associated symptoms. Stay informed and proactive about your health, and do not hesitate to consult an experienced TMJ dentis like Dr. Mitchell if you suspect you have TMJ problems or when you’re seeing signs like jaw tenderness, pain around the ears, and difficulty opening or closing the jaw. Let’s keep those jaws working smoothly. Schedule your consultation today and discover your healing path with us.

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