Head Ache / Facial Pain


The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the facial joint that allows you to chew. This joint allows your jaw to open and close, and also allows jaw movement sideways, forward, and backward. The temporomandibular joint will only work properly if the lower jaw and its movements are synchronized.  Any misalignment can cause problems.

Temporomandibular Disorder (TMD) is a condition caused by teeth grinding, strenuous physical activities, stressful situations, and overuse of the jaw muscles. TMJ disorders are also known as Craniomandibular Dysfunction and Craniofacial Pain. TMD can affect the temporomandibular joint, your jaw muscles, and nerves when your jaw movements become unsynchronized. These jaw movements can wear out the jaw muscles and lead to toothache, jaw ache, headache and even neck pain. Symptoms are often chronic and may not even appear to be related to the TMJ itself.

You may have TMJ if you are suffering from these symptoms:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Grinding, clicking, or popping sounds
  • Ear pain
  • Neck pain
  • Facial muscle soreness
  • Clogged or muffled hearing, ringing ears
  • Chronic tooth pain, sensitive teeth
  • Limited ability to open mouth and jaw discomfort
  • Locked jaw when talking, yawning or eating

Certain habits or conditions that can lead to TMJ disorders:

  • Stress
  • Habitual gum chewing and fingernail biting
  • Jaw trauma
  • Misalignment of teeth

Bruxism is excessive teeth clenching and grinding which can increase the wear and tear on the cartilage lining of the TMJ. Most patients are unaware that they have these habits because it often occurs while the patient sleeps. Patients then wake up with pain and facial soreness.

How does Dr. Yolonda Cruz evaluate and diagnose patients when TMJ problems are suspected?

Dr. Yolonda Cruz recommends a complete dental and medical evaluation to evaluate patients with suspected TMJ disorders. Diagnostic records or diagnostic procedures may be used to establish the diagnosis. Dental x-rays such as Panoramic x-rays and diagnostic impressions may be taken at the dental office. Dr. Yolonda Cruz will look for TMJ symptoms such as popping, clicking, and grating sounds associated with movement of the jaw.

TMD can be treated. Dr. Yolonda Cruz may recommend Occlusal Therapy or Bite Splint Splint Therapy, when a nighttime mouth guard or orthodontic appliance is worn to relieve grinding and pressure. Pain relievers, hot and cold compresses can provide temporary relief for most cases of TMJ.  Other cases can treated with physical therapy, posture training, and stress management.  More invasive TMJ cases may need correction of bite abnormalities and surgery. TMD is usually cyclical and may return when the patient experiences stress or resumes bad dental habits. Our Toronto dental office can recommend the right therapy for you.

Questions about TMD:

Can I use a store-bought mouth guard?
If Dr. Yolonda Cruz prescribes a mouth guard for you, your appliance should be custom fitted. Using any other device can actually do more harm than good and cause more pain and discomfort.

Is surgery my only option for TMD treatment?
For most TMJ cases Dr. Yolonda Cruz can recommend non-surgical treatment for TMD. Based on your specific TMJ issues, the dentist may recommend strengthening exercises, massage therapy, and dental appliances or retainers to alleviate discomfort and redirect positioning of the TMJ joint.

What causes TMD?
When your temporomandibular joint is out of sync, the associated muscles can get fatigued and the nerves become strained. Common causes of TMD include stress, trauma, teeth grinding, arthritis, improperly fitting dental work, and even body posture issues. You don’t have to suffer from Temporomandibular Disorder any longer. Schedule an appointment at Dr. Yolonda Cruz Dentistry today.







TMJ Dentist in Toronto