TMJ Specialist

Renton Family Dentistry

Catherine Im, D.D.S.

Family, Cosmetic & Restorative Dentistry located in Renton, WA

Your temporomandibular joint, or TMJ, is constantly moving. Every time you chew, take a breath, or even talk, your jaw moves. It’s no wonder that something can go wrong with that delicate joint. If you have regular jaw pain or uncomfortable popping, it’s time to see TMJ expert Catherine Im, DDS, of Renton Family Dentistry in Renton, Washington. Dr. Im regularly treats patients living with jaw problems and knows exactly how to customize a treatment plan based on your needs. Call her office or use the online booking feature to schedule a TMJ or TMD screening.

TMJ Q & A

WillI know if I have a temporomandibular disorder?

Your temporomandibular joint (TMJ) connects your lower jawbone to your skull. When you have muscle or bone problems in and around the joint, you start having symptoms — often known as temporomandibular joint disorder, or TMD. If you do have any abnormalities, you should know since you can have:

  • Pain in the side of your face, jaw, or ears
  • Frequent headaches or earaches
  • Pain or pressure behind your eyes
  • Clicking or popping when chewing
  • Lockjaw or jaw dislocation
  • Facial swelling or tenderness

You don’t need to have all of these symptoms to have TMJ or TMD, but most patients do have several.

Why do I have jaw pain?

The exact cause of TMJ isn’t always known. Your jaw joint is a hinge that has sliding motions. While the areas of the bones that come close together are covered in cartilage and separated by a rubbery disc, sometimes things can go wrong. You may have jaw pain if:

  • The protective disc slips or wears down
  • You develop arthritis
  • You suffer a blow or other trauma
  • You regularly clench or grind your teeth
  • Your bite is irregular or not lined up properly

When you come in for regular checkups and cleanings, Dr. Im spends time checking your head, neck, and jaw to evaluate any possible red flags. TMJ warning signs are often overlooked during routine medical exams, which is why keeping up with dental checkups is important.  

How does a dentist treat TMJ?

While any disorders of your jaw joint are generally degenerative and can get worse, they’re often treatable. Dr. Im corrects any over- or underbite issues you may have, which allows your TMJ muscles to function properly to minimize strain. Some of the treatments for TMJ and TMD include:

  • Custom nightguards
  • Relaxation techniques
  • Lifestyle changes
  • Straightening teeth
  • Electrical stimulation therapy

In severe cases, you may need surgery to correct a TMJ issue, should you have muscle or cartilage damage. But this typically is the last resort if no other options resolve your symptoms. Dr. Im informs you regarding what to expect from your treatment.