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TMJ Treatment at
Dental Health Care Associates

Diagnosing & Treating Temporomandibular Joint Disorders

Woman with jaw painThe Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) is a highly complex, yet important joint that links your head, neck, and jaw to each other. It is the ball and socket joint located just in front of your ears, on either side of your head, and is responsible for enabling you to talk, eat, and laugh.

Temporomandibular Joint disorder (TMD) is the term used to describe an incorrect alignment of your teeth and jaw. When this occurs, patients may experience a number of painful and uncomfortable issues, including recurring headaches and migraines, as well as facial, neck and shoulder pain. Additionally, those affected may experience limited jaw movement or even a clicking sound when they eat, yawn and speak.

Sadly, many patients experiencing TMD will often go untreated, however thanks to our wide range of oral health services, Dental Health Care Associates also offers specialised head, neck and jaw function diagnosis. Dr Alistair Steel has a special interest in the diagnosis and treatment of TMJ disorders, working one-on-one with patients to develop a personalised treatment program that helps them overcome TMD once and for all.

What Causes TMJ Disorders?

There are a number of factors which can contribute to a misaligned bite and jaw. These include:

  • Missing teeth causing adjacent and opposing teeth to move out of alignment
  • Clenching and grinding teeth (Bruxism)
  • Repetitive strain on the jaw muscles (usually caused by stress)
  • A jaw fracture or dislocation caused by an accident or sport injury
  • Degenerative bone disorders such as osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis

How are TMJ Disorders Diagnosed?

During your consultation with Dr Alistair, he will conduct a comprehensive oral exam and review your medical and dental history. Additional measures may be taken, including x-rays and the development of study models. This allows Dr Alistair to gain a more comprehensive overview of how your teeth fit together when you bite.

Some TMJ disorders are only temporary and can be treated via simple methods. For disorders which have been present for a long period of time, or are more severe, more advanced treatment over a longer period of time may be necessary.

How are TMJ Disorders Treated?

Once diagnosed, Dr Alistair will develop a personalised treatment plan involving one or more of the following:

  • Bite plate – A custom-made acrylic appliance used to reduce the pressure placed on the jaw and teeth. Usually worn at night when your bite force can be up to six times greater than that when you are awake. These will need to be adjusted regularly and monitored as your bite and jaw position changes during your treatment
  • Night guards – To reduce the impact grinding and clenching (Bruxism) causes on teeth and jaw muscles
  • Cold or warm packs – A cold or warm compress placed over the tender areas of your jaw muscles can assist with muscle relaxation
  • Relaxation massage – Gentle massage of your jaw joints and muscles can stimulate blood flow and aid in eliminating pain and stiffness
  • Diet – Modifying your diet to include soft foods and cutting your meals into smaller pieces in order to reduce the force required to chew. Avoid hard, chewy, sticky foods and chewing gum.
  • Stress management – Implement relaxation therapy techniques to reduce stress and strain caused from clenching muscles
  • Medication – In more severe cases the use of medication may be prescribed for short-term relief and may include muscle relaxants, anti-inflammatory, anti-depressants, or anti-anxiety medication. Ensure you take these only as directed
  • Surgery – Only in very rare and severe cases where no other treatment has been successful, surgery considered.

Want to Learn More?

If you or a member of your family experience symptoms of TMJ disorders, such as recurring headaches, please schedule an appointment with Dr Alistair for an assessment today.


TMJ Treatment Collins Street Melbourne CBD VIC | 03 9650 2909