November marks TMJ Awareness Month, a dedicated time to shed light on a prevalent condition affecting millions worldwide. Temporomandibular Joint Disorder, commonly known as TMJ, is a condition that causes pain and discomfort in the jaw joint and the muscles that control jaw movement.

According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, approximately 10 million people in the United States alone suffer from TMJ. This condition can have a significant impact on one’s quality of life, making awareness crucial. Understanding TMJ, its symptoms, and available treatments is pivotal in helping those affected lead a pain-free life.


TMJ is a multifaceted condition that can manifest in various ways. Recognizing its symptoms is essential for early diagnosis and effective management. Here are common signs and symptoms associated with TMJ:

  • Jaw pain or tenderness
  • Clicking, popping, or grating sounds in the jaw joint during mouth movement
  • Difficulty or discomfort while chewing
  • Aching pain around the ears
  • Facial pain or soreness, often extending to the neck and shoulders
  • Frequent headaches
  • Locking of the jaw joint, making it difficult to open or close the mouth

According to data from the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, women are more commonly affected than men, and the condition is most prevalent among people between the ages of 20 and 40. Long-term effects of untreated TMJ can be severe, leading to chronic pain and difficulty in eating, speaking, or even smiling. Understanding the prevalence and symptoms of TMJ is crucial in promoting early diagnosis and effective management.


Raising awareness about TMJ is vital because understanding the causes and symptoms can lead to early intervention and improved quality of life. TMJ can be caused by several factors, including:

  • Jaw Injury: Trauma to the jaw, whether due to an accident or physical blow, can lead to TMJ problems.
  • Arthritis: Various forms of arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis, can affect the TMJ and result in discomfort and pain.
  • Bruxism (Teeth Grinding): Habitual teeth grinding or clenching, especially during sleep, can strain the jaw muscles and joints, contributing to TMJ issues.
  • Stress and Anxiety: Chronic stress can lead to jaw clenching, increasing the pressure on the TMJ and causing pain.
  • Malocclusion (Bad Bite): Misalignment of the teeth and jaw can strain the TMJ, leading to TMJ disorder over time.

By understanding these underlying causes, individuals can take proactive steps to prevent TMJ or seek timely treatment if they suspect they are experiencing TMJ-related symptoms.

When it comes to treatment, early intervention is key. At Dr. Stephen Coates’ dental office, we offer specialized TMJ treatment plans tailored to individual needs. Treatment options include lifestyle modifications, stress management techniques, and specific exercises to relax the jaw muscles. Dental splints or mouthguards are often recommended to alleviate pressure on the jaw joint. In some cases, dental procedures or surgery might be necessary to correct underlying structural issues contributing to TMJ symptoms.


Q: What causes TMJ?

A: TMJ can be caused by various factors, including jaw injury, arthritis, or excessive teeth grinding, misalignment of the teeth & jaws, and sleep breathing disorders. Stress and anxiety can also exacerbate TMJ symptoms.

Q: How is TMJ diagnosed?

A: Diagnosis often involves a thorough examination by a dentist, including X-rays and, in some cases, CBCT &/or MRI scans to get a detailed view of the jaw joint.

Q: Can TMJ be prevented?

A: While not all cases can be prevented, stress management, avoiding excessive gum chewing, and not clenching the jaw can reduce the risk of developing TMJ.

Q: Is TMJ treatment covered by insurance?

A: Insurance coverage for TMJ treatment varies. It’s essential to check with your insurance provider to understand your specific coverage.

Q: Can TMJ go away on its own?

A: In some cases, TMJ symptoms might improve with self-care measures. However, it’s advisable to seek professional evaluation and guidance for proper management.


As we observe TMJ Awareness Month, it’s crucial to prioritize your oral health and seek help if you suspect you might be suffering from TMJ. Don’t let the symptoms persist, impacting your daily life and well-being.

If you or someone you know is experiencing jaw pain, clicking sounds, or other TMJ-related symptoms, schedule an appointment at our office today. Our experienced team can provide a comprehensive evaluation and personalized treatment plan to alleviate your discomfort and improve your quality of life. Take the first step towards a pain-free life!