TMJ - Office Visit

This is an office visit to treat a group of conditions that limit jaw movement and may cause pain in the jaw joint and surrounding tissues.

This is an office visit to treat a group of conditions that limit jaw movement and may cause pain in the jaw joint and surrounding tissues.

Temporomandibular joint syndrome (TMJ) is a group of conditions that limit jaw movement and may cause pain in the jaw joint and surrounding tissues.

  • The temporomandibular joint connects the large bone of the jaw (the mandible) to the temporal bone of the skull. Normally, the joint is flexible and moves smoothly up and down, allowing you to easily talk, chew, and yawn.
  • You can feel the temporomandibular joint move when you place your fingers in front of both ears and open your mouth.
  • Problems with the temporomandibular joint may occasionally result in biting or chewing difficulties, a clicking or grating sensation when chewing or opening the mouth, a dull/aching pain in the face, an earache or headache, jaw pain or tenderness, and a reduced ability to open or close the mouth.

Some benefit plans exclude coverage for services to diagnose and treat temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disease, whether it is medical or dental in nature. Please review your coverage documents and/or call the number on the back of your ID card for more information. The estimates shown apply when the service is determined to be a covered service, eligible for in-network reimbursement.

The cause of TMJ disorders is unclear, but a variety of factors may be involved. Some factors that may contribute to overwork, fatigue, or tension of the jaw and surrounding muscles are:

  • an injury to the jaw or overstretching of the jaw muscles during dental care or surgery
  • arthritis of the jaw joint
  • clenching or grinding your teeth or biting your nails
  • poorly fitting dentures

Researchers are not sure if emotional stress, anxiety, and depression are contributing factors to developing TMJ. Research has also not shown that a bad bite, orthodontic treatment (braces and headgear), or chewing gum are involved in the development of TMJ.

TMJ symptoms are often temporary and go away on their own, with or without treatment. Therefore, conservative treatment is appropriate for most people with TMJ. This type of treatment emphasizes self-management measures, which include:

  • eating soft foods
  • gently massaging the area and doing exercises recommended by your healthcare provider
  • applying a warm compress to the affected area
  • avoiding extreme movements such as wide yawning, loud singing, and gum chewing
  • avoiding habits such as teeth clenching and nail biting

Your healthcare provider (doctor or dentist) may recommend over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (ibuprofen or naproxen). In some cases, physical therapy or an oral splint may be helpful. In some cases, muscle relaxants or antianxiety medications may be used for a short time.

Diagnosing TMJ disorders can be difficult because there is no specific diagnostic test available and symptoms similar to TMJ may be caused by other problems. If you have symptoms of a TMJ disorder, see your healthcare provider. He or she will take a medical history and perform a physical examination that focuses on your jaw. He or she will also ask questions about previous dental issues, injuries, illnesses, stress, and habits (such as grinding your teeth or biting your nails).

  • Imaging studies may be recommended if conditions such as arthritis, a tumor, or a fracture are suspected. They may also be recommended if you have significant, ongoing pain or lack of function that doesn't improve with conservative treatments.
  • Mouth splints, a common treatment for teeth grinding, may quiet the grinding. However, they may not be effective at reducing pain or clenching. Short-term use of splints may be helpful, but they can lose their effectiveness and can cause changes in your bite.Dentists, oral surgeons, specially trained facial pain experts, or ENT (ear, nose, and throat) specialists may be helpful in treating TMJ disorders.

If you believe you may have a problem with your temporomandibular joint, you should see your healthcare provider or dentist.

  • Before your appointment, make a list of your medical history, including past illnesses, surgeries and hospitalizations; your medications (including over-the-counter); and any questions or concerns you want to discuss.
  • During your appointment, ask about your overall health, what symptoms you might have, when you may start to see improvement; what the follow-up plans are, if any; and what symptoms you should report before your next appointment.
  • After your appointment, you should know your diagnosis, what tests you might need, the reason for those tests, and if the test results will change your treatment plan. You should also understand your treatment plan, any possible alternatives, and what medications are recommended (including possible side effects).
  • If your healthcare provider prescribes a medication for you, ask for a generic version. If your doctor thinks that a generic version is not right for you, ask for a medication on the lowest available tier of your Prescription Drug List (PDL).
  • If your healthcare provider recommends an imaging study such as an MRI, ask what he or she will do with the information obtained from the study.
  • If your healthcare provider refers you to an oral and maxillofacial surgeon, ask why he or she recommends the consultation.If your healthcare provider recommends surgery, ask what kind of surgery he/she recommends, and why it is necessary. Ask about alternatives to surgery and what he/she believes will happen if you do not have surgery.


Also known as:

TMJ - Office Visit
Temporalmandibular Joint Disorder
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