TMJ Specialist

Melissa Tuft, DDS -  - General Dentist

Melissa Tuft, DDS

General Dentist located in Union Square, San Francisco, CA

Do you have pain in your upper jaw, have issues chewing, or sometimes hear a clicking noise when you move your jaw? If so, you may be one of the estimated 10 million Americans with a TMJ disorder. Melissa Tuft, DDS, understands the pain and discomfort associated with these conditions and can help you reduce your TMJ symptoms and jaw pain. With over 25 years of experience providing gentle dental care in San Francisco, Dr. Tuft can help you, too. Call the Bay Area office today to schedule your appointment, or use the online scheduling tool.

TMJ Q & A

What are TMJ disorders?

Your temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is a sliding hinge joint that connects your jaw to your skull. When you experience pain in this joint or in the muscles around the joint, you may have a TMJ disorder.

Some common TMJ symptoms include:

  • Jaw pain or tenderness
  • Joint pain
  • Aching around your ear
  • Trouble chewing
  • General facial pain
  • Joint locking or popping
  • Clicking or grating noise when you chew

If you experience clicking or popping, but don’t have any associated pain, Dr. Tuft may not recommend treatment.

 

What causes TMJ disorders?

Multiple issues can result in a TMJ disorder. You may have a problem with any of the surrounding structures that support your joint, including muscles, cartilage, or the shock-absorbing disc found in your TMJ.

These issues can arise from:

  • Arthritis
  • Joint misalignment
  • Trauma or injury
  • Chronic teeth grinding or clenching
  • Connective tissue diseases

If you overuse or overstrain your joint (like chewing gum for a long period of time), you may experience pain around your TMJ. Sometimes, TMJ disorders occur without any of these conditions, and the root cause remains unknown.

 

How do you treat TMJ?

The severity of your TMJ symptoms and the root cause (if known) often determine the course of treatment Dr. Tuft recommends. In many cases of TMJ pain, you can reduce your symptoms with lifestyle modifications, while other times the symptoms may go away on their own.

Because TMJ symptoms often result from clenching the jaw, Dr. Tuft suggests avoiding tension-related habits, including grinding your teeth or chewing on things like pencils. Even just becoming aware of these habits can reduce their frequency.

She may also recommend eating soft foods and taking small bites to avoid straining your jaw muscles. Avoiding gum and sticky foods can also help. Massaging and stretching the muscles around your jaw may provide relief, as can hot and cold treatments.

When these modifications don’t lessen your pain, Dr. Tuft may recommend taking an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory pain reliever in conjunction with wearing an oral splint or mouth guard. In severe cases that don’t respond to other treatments, Dr. Tuft may suggest a surgical procedure.

 

If you have jaw pain and think it’s related to TMJ, call Dr. Tuft’s office today to schedule your initial consultation, or book your appointment online.