The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is a hinge-like joint that connects your jawbone to your skull. This joint allows your jaw to open and close and move from side to side. TMJ allows for you to talk, chew, yawn, and more.

Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD) occurs when the joints of the jaw and the chewing muscles do not work together correctly. Common issues include teeth grinding, stress, arthritis, misalignment of the joint, or jaw injury. Symptoms may involve jaw pain, clicking or popping sounds when opening or closing the mouth, difficulty chewing, headaches, and earaches.

Do You Have a TMJ Disorder (TMD)?

  • Are you aware of grinding or clenching your teeth?
  • Do you wake up with sore, stiff muscles around your jaws?
  • Do you have frequent headaches or neck aches?
  • Does the pain get worse when you clench your teeth?
  • Does stress make your clenching and pain worse?
  • Does your jaw click, pop, grate, catch, or lock when you open your mouth?
  • Is it difficult or painful to open your mouth, eat, or yawn?
  • Have you ever injured your neck, head, or jaws?
  • Have you had problems (such as arthritis) with other joints?
  • Do you have teeth that no longer touch when you bite?
  • Do your teeth meet differently from time to time?
  • Is it hard to use your front teeth to bite or tear food?
  • Are your teeth sensitive, loose, broken or worn?

The more times you answered “yes”, the more likely it is that you have a TMJ disorder. Understanding TMJ disorders will also help you understand how they are treated.

Early detection of TMD can help alleviate discomfort with treatment. Dr. Karen Wuertz, DDS, can assist you in developing a treatment plan that fits your situation.

Call our Houston office to schedule a consultation at Houston Office Phone Number (713) 784-4200.


  1. What causes TMJ disorder?
  2. TMJ disorders can be caused by various factors, including jaw injury, teeth grinding or clenching (bruxism), stress, arthritis, misalignment of the joint, or a combination of these factors.

  3. What are the common symptoms of TMJ disorder?
  4. Common symptoms include jaw pain or tenderness, clicking, popping, or grating sounds when opening or closing the mouth, difficulty or pain while chewing, headaches, earaches, facial pain, and a feeling of the jaw being locked or stuck.

  5. Can TMJ disorder be treated?
  6. Yes, TMJ disorder can often be treated. Treatment options can include lifestyle modifications, such as stress reduction techniques, avoiding hard or chewy foods, and practicing good posture. Non-invasive treatments like physical therapy exercises, applying heat or cold packs, and using over-the-counter pain relievers may also help. In some cases, a splint or mouthguard, dental procedures, or surgery will be recommended.

  7. How long does it take to recover from TMJ disorder?
  8. The recovery time can vary depending on the severity of the TMJ disorder and the chosen treatment approach. Mild cases may resolve with self-care practices within a few weeks or months, while more severe cases may require longer treatment and recovery periods.

  9. Can TMJ disorder be prevented?
  10. While it may not be possible to prevent TMJ disorders entirely, there are steps you can take to reduce the risk or minimize symptoms. These include practicing stress management, avoiding excessive jaw movements (e.g., chewing gum), maintaining good posture, and using proper techniques for teeth grinding or clenching if necessary.

  11. What about bite correction or surgery?
    If your TMJ disorder has caused problems with how your teeth fit together you may need treatment such as bite adjustment (equilibration), orthodontics with or without jaw reconstruction, or restorative dental work. Surgical options, such as arthroscopy and open joint repair restructuring, are sometimes needed, but are reserved for severe cases. Dr. Wuertz does not consider TMJ surgery unless the jaw can’t open, is dislocated and non-reducible, has severe degeneration, or the patient has undergone appliance treatment unsuccessfully.

    Each person is different and each person experiences different levels of discomfort and varying symptoms. Find the best treatment plan for you by scheduling an appointment with Dr. Wuertz.