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What is TMJ in Dentistry

What is TMJ in Dentistry?

When discussing oral health, the term TMJ frequently arises, especially concerning pain and discomfort in the jaw area. TMJ stands for Temporomandibular Joint, a critical component in the mechanics of the jaw, playing a pivotal role in daily functions such as chewing, speaking, and swallowing. TMJ disorders can lead to significant discomfort and impede normal jaw function, necessitating specialized care. Dr. Nojan Bakhtiari, a renowned TMJ Specialist, provides comprehensive TMJ Treatment to alleviate TMJ Pain and restore optimal function.

Understanding the Temporomandibular Joint

The temporomandibular joint connects the jawbone to the skull, situated just in front of the ears on each side of the head. It is a unique and complex joint, capable of both hinge and sliding movements, allowing the jaw to move smoothly in various directions. This complexity, however, makes it susceptible to dysfunction and disorders.

What is TMJ Disorder?

TMJ disorder, often referred to as TMD (temporomandibular disorder), encompasses a range of conditions affecting the joint, muscles controlling jaw movement, and surrounding tissues. TMJ disorders can be caused by various factors, including injury, arthritis, genetics, or wear and tear over time. Symptoms of TMJ disorder can vary widely but often include:

  • Jaw pain or tenderness
  • Difficulty chewing or discomfort while chewing
  • Aching pain in and around the ear
  • Locking of the joint, making it difficult to open or close the mouth
  • Clicking or popping sounds in the jaw

Causes of TMJ Disorders

Several factors can contribute to the development of TMJ disorders. Understanding these causes is crucial for effective TMJ Treatment and management:

  1. Injury or Trauma: Physical injury to the jaw or head can damage the temporomandibular joint or the muscles controlling jaw movement.
  2. Arthritis: Both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis can affect the TMJ, leading to inflammation, pain, and restricted movement.
  3. Genetics: Certain genetic factors may predispose individuals to TMJ disorders, making them more susceptible to developing these conditions.
  4. Grinding or Clenching Teeth: Bruxism, the habit of grinding or clenching teeth, can put excessive pressure on the TMJ, leading to pain and dysfunction.
  5. Misalignment: Misaligned teeth or bite issues can strain the TMJ, causing discomfort and functional problems.

Diagnosing TMJ Disorders

Diagnosing TMJ disorders requires a thorough examination by a TMJ Specialist. Dr. Nojan Bakhtiari employs a comprehensive approach to diagnose TMJ disorders, including:

  • Medical History: Reviewing the patient’s medical and dental history to identify potential contributing factors.
  • Physical Examination: Assessing the jaw, mouth, and neck for signs of tenderness, pain, or dysfunction.
  • Imaging Tests: Utilizing imaging techniques such as X-rays, MRI, or CT scans to visualize the joint and surrounding structures.
  • Jaw Movement Analysis: Evaluating the range of motion and movement patterns of the jaw to detect abnormalities.

TMJ Treatment Options

Effective TMJ Treatment varies depending on the severity and underlying cause of the disorder. Dr. Nojan Bakhtiari offers a range of treatments to address TMJ Pain and improve jaw function:

  1. Medications: Pain relievers, anti-inflammatory drugs, and muscle relaxants can help alleviate symptoms and reduce inflammation.
  2. Physical Therapy: Specialized exercises and techniques can strengthen the jaw muscles, improve mobility, and reduce pain.
  3. Oral Appliances: Custom-made splints or mouthguards can help reposition the jaw, reduce grinding or clenching, and alleviate pressure on the TMJ.
  4. Lifestyle Modifications: Stress management techniques, dietary changes, and avoiding excessive jaw movements can contribute to symptom relief.
  5. Injections: Corticosteroid or botulinum toxin injections can reduce inflammation and muscle tension, providing relief from TMJ Pain.
  6. Surgery: In severe cases, surgical intervention may be necessary to repair or replace the temporomandibular joint. This is usually considered a last resort when other treatments have failed.

Preventing TMJ Disorders

While some causes of TMJ disorders are unavoidable, certain preventive measures can help reduce the risk of developing these conditions:

  • Maintain Good Posture: Proper posture, especially when sitting for extended periods, can reduce strain on the neck and jaw muscles.
  • Avoid Excessive Jaw Movements: Limiting activities that strain the jaw, such as chewing gum or biting nails, can prevent overuse of the TMJ.
  • Manage Stress: Stress can contribute to teeth grinding and clenching. Stress reduction techniques such as meditation, yoga, or regular exercise can help manage TMJ symptoms.
  • Seek Early Treatment: Addressing dental issues, such as misalignment or bruxism, early on can prevent the progression of TMJ disorders.

Living with TMJ Disorders

Living with TMJ disorders can be challenging, but with appropriate care and management, individuals can lead a comfortable and functional life. It is essential to work closely with a TMJ Specialist like Dr. Nojan Bakhtiari, who can provide personalized TMJ Treatment plans tailored to the specific needs of each patient.


TMJ disorders are complex conditions that can significantly impact an individual’s quality of life. Understanding the temporomandibular joint, recognizing the symptoms, and seeking timely TMJ Treatment are crucial steps in managing these disorders. Dr. Nojan Bakhtiari, a leading TMJ Specialist, offers comprehensive care to address TMJ Pain and improve jaw function. By utilizing a range of treatment options and preventive measures, individuals can find relief from TMJ disorders and enjoy a healthier, more comfortable life.

For those experiencing symptoms of TMJ disorders, seeking expert care from a TMJ Specialist like Dr. Nojan Bakhtiari can make a substantial difference in managing the condition and restoring optimal jaw function. Don’t let TMJ Pain disrupt your daily life – reach out for professional TMJ Treatment today.

About Dr. Nojan Bakhtiari

Dr. Nojan Bakhtiari is a board-certified TMJ and Oral Facial Pain specialist. He focuses his practice on TMJ disorders, oral pain, facial pain and associated headaches. He treats patients in New York City. His practice is conveniently located in midtown Manhattan three blocks from Grand Central Terminal and Bryant Park.

  • Assistant Clinical Professor, Columbia University College of Dental Medicine
  • Treasurer and Committee Chair, NYU Dentistry Alumni Association
  • Diplomate, American Board of Orofacial Pain
  • Fellow, American Academy of Orofacial Pain
  • Chair of Membership Committee, American Academy of Orofacial Pain

Dr. Nojan shares his in-depth knowledge of the TMJ, oral and facial pain as Assistant Clinical Professor at Columbia University College of Dental Medicine. He taught for 5 years at Yale-New Haven Hospital as a clinical attending and course director. He is one of very few  diplomates of the American Board of Orofacial Pain  and a Fellow of the American Academy of Orofacial Pain.

As an expert in the field, he has been invited to lecture at New York University, New York-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital, New York State Dental Association, Woodhull Hospital, Lincoln Medical Center, and numerous dental societies and conferences (including Greenwich and Stamford Dental Societies, New Haven Dental Association, Connecticut Society of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, New England Dental Society Annual Meeting).

What are treatment options offered by Dr. Nojan?

Dr. Nojan offers the best and advanced treatment options available for TMJ, facial pain, oral pain and headaches. Treatments offered by Dr. Nojan Bakhtiari are personalized to you when looking to know more about inflammation of the jaw, and may include:

  • Oral appliance therapy (custom mouthguards, nightguards, splints)
  • Therapeutic injections
  • Trigger point injections for muscle pain
  • Nerve blocks
  • Steroid injections for TMJ joint and tendons
  • Botox for TMJ, nerve pain, jaw pain and headaches
  • Therapeutic ointments and medication for oral, facial and TMJ pain

Overview of Treatments for TMJ, Facial Pain and Oral Pain

Dr. Nojan offers the most advanced and evidence-based treatment options for TMJ, facial pain, oral pain and related headaches.

“Don’t leave TMJ and orofacial pain treatments to guesswork.”

Treatments will always be personalized to you, your condition and your treatment approach preferences. We understand that some patients do not like taking medications, while others are afraid of needles, or have life-styles that prevent them from wearing a bite guard. Learn more about what happens at your first visit with Dr. Nojan Bakhtiari, DDS, FAAOP. For that reasons, we offer the full range of treatment options and learning about inflammation of the jaw while also including:

TMJ Treatment options vary depending on the individual suffering from TMJ and the specifics of their condition. Since TMJ/TMD can affect the musculature, tendons, bones and joint of the jaw, a thorough examination and diagnosis is paramount prior to initiating any treatment. Treatments include therapeutic injections of muscles and the joints, custom fabricated orthotics (also called splints, mouth guards, nightguards or occlusal guards), medications, creams, botox©, jaw stretching exercises, and physical therapy.

TMJ therapies should never include grinding down of otherwise healthy teeth. It is ill-advised to suggest to a patient that grinding of their otherwise healthy natural teeth is related to the TMJ pain they are perceiving. This treatment philosophy of “correcting the bite”, by either grinding down teeth (occlusal adjustments), restoring teeth with crowns, or moving teeth with braces or invisalign©, has been debunked in the dental and scientific literature.

What to expect at your first visit to our office

At your first visit to our office, Dr. Bakhtiari and his team will thoroughly examine your jaw, face, TMJ, bite and mouth. He will determine the source and cause of your discomfort, and devise a customized treatment solution that will work for you to help with inflammation of the jaw.

The initial consultation includes:

  • Review of your medical history
  • Detailed evaluation of your pain, discomfort and/or other symptoms
  • Cranial nerve screening
  • Muscle palpation of the muscles of your jaw, head and neck
  • TMJ evaluation: evaluating the health of your jaw joints including their range of motion, tenderness and any clicking/popping sounds
  • Additional imaging if necessary: X-rays, panoramic, CT scans, MRIs
  • Additional testing as needed: diagnostic topical anesthetics, muscle and nerve blocks, blood tests

Book Your Appointment Today with Dr. Nojan!