TMJ Disorders Tulsa, OK

If you’ve ever experienced a pounding headache, neck tension, or jaw pain, you may have unknowingly suffered from temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ). This condition occurs when the hinge joint connecting your skull and jaw is aggravated, leading to a host of uncomfortable symptoms. You can contact our office if you are experiencing TMJ pain; we’re here to help.

Treating TMJ in Tulsa, Oklahoma

What is TMJ? 

The temporomandibular joint, commonly referred to as TMJ, is the joint that connects the jawbone to the skull. It’s responsible for the distinct movements and functions of the jaw, including speaking, chewing, and breathing. The TMJ is a complex joint comprising cartilage, muscles, ligaments, and bone. The joint itself is composed of two parts: the temporal bone of the skull and the lower jawbone, or mandible.

The cartilage within the joint acts as a shock absorber, protecting the bones from rubbing against each other. The muscles surrounding the joint allow for various jaw movements, including opening, closing, and side-to-side movement. Some common issues associated with 

What is TMD?

Temporomandibular joint disorder is referred to as TMD. TMD and TMJ are frequently used interchangeably, and doctors and patients alike will often refer to TMD as TMJ.

TMJ dysfunction develops when the muscles and ligaments surrounding your jaw joints experience inflammation or irritation. The pain that results from the illness could be mild or severe, and it could be acute or persistent. TMD is categorized as follows by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research:

Pain in the myofascial region The most typical type of TMD is this one. The muscles that control the function of the jaw, neck, and shoulder become uncomfortable or painful. The fascia is the connective tissue that covers the muscles.

Dislocation of the joint: This refers to a dislocated jaw, a displaced disk (the cartilage cushion between the head of the jaw bone and the skull), or damage to the condyle (the rounded end of the jaw bone that articulates with the temporal skull bone).

Degenerative joint disorder: This covers jaw joint osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis.

Any combination of these situations is possible.

Signs and Symptoms 

TMD symptoms usually develop over time, and their severity varies depending on the individual. Common TMD signs and symptoms include:

  • Pain or tenderness around the jaw joint
  • Difficulty opening and closing the mouth
  • Clicking or popping sounds in the jaw
  • Feeling stiffness in the jaw muscles and pain while chewing
  • Headaches
  • Earaches
  • Neck pain
  • Dizziness
  • Ringing in the ears

In severe cases, TMD can also cause misaligned or uneven teeth, difficulties in speaking, and jaw locking.

What causes TMJ?

There isn’t one specific cause of TMD; rather, it’s typically a combination of factors contributing to its development. Some of the most common causes of TMD include jaw injury, bruxism (teeth grinding), stress, arthritis, misalignment of the jaw or teeth, and even sleep apnea. 

Poor posture, especially in the neck and shoulder areas, can also contribute to TMD. Additionally, excessive gum chewing, nail biting, and other repetitive jaw motions can stress the joint and cause TMD symptoms to develop. While the exact cause of TMD may not be clear, the combination of these risk factors can lead to inflammation of the jaw joint and surrounding muscles, pain, and difficulty moving the jaw. It’s important to seek treatment for TMD in order to prevent further damage and alleviate symptoms.

How does TMJ affect your head and neck?

The TMJ is located just behind a significant facial nerve that serves as the hub of a network of nerves that cross and connect throughout the face, head, and neck. That is why pain that originates in the TMJ can migrate to the eyes, ears, mouth, forehead, cheeks, tongue, teeth, and throat. Even the neck and upper back muscles have the potential to get involved. Similarly to a shoulder injury, when the shoulder joint is damaged, the surrounding muscles are overworked, causing additional referred pain, even though the surrounding muscles are themselves undamaged. 

Most mild TMJ discomfort will go away on its own. To stop or steer clear of potential problems in the future, anyone experiencing any of the following TMJ symptoms should think about getting tested:

  • Bouts of discomfort or sensitivity to touch at the TMJ, in the ear, or adjacent that are constant or recurring
  • Pain or discomfort when chewing
  • The joint “locking” in either the open or closed position
  • Various areas of the face are experiencing persistent pain with no clear reason.
  • When the jaw is opened or while eating, there is a clicking or grinding sound, along with discomfort or movement restrictions.

The long-term impact of untreated TMJ

The long-term impact of untreated temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders can be severe and worsen over time. Failure to seek timely medical attention can lead to chronic pain and increasing difficulty in jaw movement. This can result in limitations in eating, speaking, and even breathing. Long-term TMJ disorder can cause damage to the teeth, increase pressure on the neck, shoulders, and back, and even lead to spinal problems. TMJ can also cause:

Chronic Jaw Pain: The pain in your jaw may get worse if you do not get treatment for your TMJ. A chronic symptom or syndrome is one that has been present for a while. If you don’t treat your jaw discomfort, it may eventually go from being sporadic to ongoing for a considerable amount of time.

Damage and Inflammation to the Joints: Picture it as a fractured bone. A broken bone will sustain greater damage if a cast isn’t applied to help it recover properly. Your TMJ experiences a similar situation. There will be damage to the joint(s) that you have problems with if you don’t get the right treatment for your TMJ pain. Your body naturally heals an injury by causing inflammation. As a result, unless the pain is relieved, your body will continue to swell with inflammation (for example, from TMJ problems).

Recurring Headaches: Headaches are another sign of TMJ pain that can get worse if left untreated. Headaches are a result of problems with the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), which connects your jaw to your skull and all of the muscles around it. Recurrent pain symptoms, including headaches, will continue to bother you if the root of the issue is not addressed.

The Development of an Airway Sleep Disorder: Your airway is being obstructed by your jaw because it isn’t resting properly. Less oxygen is now reaching your brain as a result. Over time, all of this may cause the emergence of an airway sleep problem. Other symptoms, including headaches, neck pain, sleep apnea, and brain fog, can also result from this disorder and, subsequently, a lack of sleep.

Studies have shown that untreated TMJ disorder can contribute to sleep disturbances and psychological conditions such as depression and anxiety. Therefore, it is essential to seek treatment as soon as possible to prevent the long-term consequences of untreated TMJ.

Diagnosing TMJ

Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder encompasses a wide range of conditions that affect the jaw joint and surrounding muscles. To begin with, a thorough medical history and physical examination are conducted. Patients are asked to explain their symptoms, including the type, duration, and severity of pain. In addition, they may be asked to describe any habits that may be contributing factors, such as clenching or grinding of teeth, biting nails, gum eating, and others. The examination involves checking the range of motion of the jaw, looking for signs of pain, and then hearing or feeling any clicking, popping, or deviation of the jaw when the mouth is opened and closed.

Radiographic imaging, such as X-rays, CT scans, or MRIs, can also be helpful in identifying structural abnormalities of the TMJ or surrounding areas. While the diagnosis of TMJ can be challenging, a precise diagnosis is essential to providing appropriate treatment and management for this condition. Therefore, seeking prompt medical attention from a licensed healthcare professional should be a priority for anyone with symptoms that may possibly indicate TMJ.

Treatment options for TMJ, head, and neck pain.

The importance of treating TMJ cannot be overstated. Left untreated, it can make it difficult to eat, speak, and even breathe properly. Moreover, TMJ can have a significant impact on your quality of life. Fortunately, there are effective treatments available to manage TMJ.

Because each patient’s TMJ condition is unique, each patient will receive specialized and customized care. When you visit us, you are in great hands since we provide a wide range of services that can be helpful to you. Our role is to support you as you learn to manage your condition and take control of it so that it won’t control your life.

  • PRF: PRF therapy is one of the most effective treatments for TMJ, head, and neck pain. A patient’s own blood is used to make PRF, a natural material that promotes the development of new tissue and speeds up the healing process. Improved mobility and less pain are possible after receiving an injection of PRF, which can also reduce inflammation and encourage tissue regeneration. PRF is a non-invasive treatment with low adverse effects, in contrast to other treatments like surgery or braces. To learn more about the advantages of PRF and how it can enhance your quality of life if you have TMD, speak with Dr. Frank Henrich. 
  • Splints: Splints and nightguards are mouthguards that fit over your upper or lower teeth. The mouthpieces provide secure tooth contacts during closure when worn. When worn, mouth guards also improve your bite by shifting your jaw into a more advantageous posture. The primary distinction between splints and night guards is that the former are worn continuously while the latter are only worn at night. Dr. Henrich will be able to determine what kind of oral appliance you might require.
  • Medications: Many patients may find that taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, for a brief period of time will temporarily relieve their jaw and muscular pain. If the pain doesn’t go away, your doctor may recommend stronger painkillers, anti-inflammatory drugs, muscle relaxants, or antidepressants to aid with pain and other symptoms. Many drugs that were initially FDA-approved for different ailments also function on the same nerves that cause pain and can help you feel better. 
  • Physical therapy: TMD and TMJ are frequently treated with physical therapy. In order to help patients open their mouths without pain, increase range of motion (ROM), and preserve good function, therapists concentrate on reducing neck and jaw pain. We provide pain relief without the use of drugs, injections, or surgery for all of these conditions that can cause pain and make it difficult for you to move your jaw. Massages for painful muscles are a small part of physical therapy. It is a thorough method for reducing pain and enhancing strength, flexibility, and range of motion.

Why not surgery? 

Surgery is considered a last resort option for treating TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorders due to the complexity of the jaw joint and the potential risks and complications associated with such a procedure. Not only is surgery a highly invasive and costly treatment option, but it can also lead to long-term complications, such as nerve damage, jaw stiffness, or even worsening of symptoms. Additionally, the success rate of TMJ surgery is variable and largely depends on the specific cause of the disorder.

While some patients may experience significant improvements in pain and function, others may not benefit much from the procedure or even experience a recurrence of symptoms over time. For these reasons, conservative treatments, such as physical therapy, medications, and oral appliances, are typically recommended as first-line therapies for managing TMJ in most cases. These non-surgical approaches not only offer a less invasive and less risky option but also provide a more personalized and multidisciplinary approach to addressing the underlying causes of TMJ. 

Why choose us?

When it comes to seeking treatment for TMJ, Henrich Dental is a top choice for patients in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Led by Dr. Frank Henrich, who has several years of experience in treating TMJ, Henrich Dental offers patients effective, customized, and compassionate care for TMJ. Dr. Henrich and his team have advanced training in diagnosing and treating TMJ, and they use state-of-the-art technology to provide accurate and efficient treatment. Meanwhile, patients receive personalized attention and support throughout their treatment journey, helping them to manage symptoms and improve their quality of life.

Whether you are experiencing mild or severe symptoms of TMJ, you can trust us to provide the expert care you need. Make an appointment today to experience the exceptional care that Henrich Dental has to offer.


How can a dentist treat TMJ pain?

It’s time to visit the dentist if you can’t get relief from your TMJ pain at home or if your jaw pain keeps returning. Don’t wait until TMD destroys your quality of life and negatively impacts your general health. After identifying the cause of your jaw discomfort, a dentist can treat TMD. This can entail using a sleep guard to stop teeth grinding, getting braces to fix a faulty bite, or using any available alternative treatments. The jaw muscles that surround the joint have been released or relaxed using various techniques, including Botox, acupuncture, and electrical stimulation.

Are there any natural treatments for TMD?

TMJ pain frequently only lasts a few weeks before going away on its own. To assist the jaw joint in recovering and relaxing, it is typically required to make certain adjustments and receive therapy at home. Several DIY remedies may be used for this, such as the ones listed below:

  • Use ice or warm water.
  • Don’t chew gum or consume anything crunchy. 
  • While yawning, hold your jaw steady.
  • Try jaw exercises.
  • Manage your stress.
  • Use over-the-counter pain relievers.

Can I self-test for TMJ conditions?

You may perform a few quick tests at home to determine if you have a TMJ condition.

You can check your posture, your neck’s range of motion, the condition of your teeth, and the placement of your jaw. Even though some tests can be done without a professional’s assistance, you should still do so if you have any concerns.

What precautions may be taken to reduce the risk of TMD?

Understanding the high-risk activities that cause TMD is crucial. You should be aware that clenching your jaw, grinding your teeth, chewing your gum frequently, resting your chin in your palm, having bad posture, yawning excessively, and chewing on ice or pens can all cause TMD. Reducing these activities can help prevent TMD. Addressing your stress and anxiety in a healthy way can be beneficial for both your general health and your TMJ health. Many TMD patients experience worry and tension, which can result in jaw clenching and teeth grinding. 

Will TMD therapy eliminate my headaches and/or ringing in the ears?

TMD and recurring headaches are related, as are ringing in the ears. After a suitable course of TMD treatment, the majority of patients do receive notable relief from headaches and ringing in their ears, but there is no way to completely prevent these symptoms.