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TMJ Dysfunction and How to Decrease Symptoms

TMJ, or Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction, is characterized by chronic headaches, ringing ears, neck and head muscle tension, facial pain, clicking jaws, and clenching or grinding. These symptoms of TMJ can be chronic and varied in intensity due to an unbalanced bite. Our bite becomes unbalanced when upper and lower teeth no longer fit optimally due to age, injury, or bite development from childhood.

At Kesteven Dental Care Studio, we offer treatment for TMJ. This condition of the jaws may be caused by arthritis, dislocation, an injury, poor tooth and jaw alignment or teeth grinding. Every person has two temporomandibular joints, one on each side of the mouth. These joints are responsible for allowing you to open and close your mouth. When you are experiencing pain or dysfunction, we can help you with various treatment options.

When the position of your jaw, in relation to your skull, is in malocclusion(bad bite), your teeth force the muscles of your face and jaw into a strained and unnatural position.

Once accurately diagnosed, conservative treatment methods, rather than surgery or drugs, are often the most successful for long-term pain resolution. Establishing a gneuromuscular “bite” resolves the structural and emotional frustration that accompanies TMJD. Understanding how to treat jaw dysfunction is essential to its treatment.

Lifestyle Changes to Reduce Symptoms

Dr. Kesteven and our dental team can help with some lifestyle changes that may be enough to treat your TMJ. We often recommend:

  • Eating softer foods. Tough-to-chew foods cause strain on your jaw; avoid foods like steaks, sticky or chewy candies, and any hard foods such as raw carrots.
  • using relaxation techniques to reduce stress  
  • Apply heat for 10 to 15 minutes to the place where your jaws meet. 
  • Avoid chewing non-food items, i.e. do not use your teeth as tools, 
  • Avoid biting your fingernails to prevent TMJ discomfort. Biting your nails forces your jaw to move in ways it is naturally opposed to, possibly leading to jaw disc displacement. Keep your nails trimmed to minimize the temptation to bite them.

Night Time Orthotics

A night-time orthotic is another treatment we offer. We can take impressions to create a custom mould just for you. For the daytime, use an over-the-counter pain relief medication to help with your symptoms.  Muscle relaxants may also help reduce tightness in your jaws’ muscles.

24/7 Orthotic

To position the jaws in the correct position and actually heal the system, an orthotic working 24/7 is used. This type of orthotic is not your typical mouthguard as it even allows the patient to eat with the appliance in place. Once the individual is pain-free and again enjoying life, permanent solutions can happen!

For further information about Gneuromuscular Dentistry, check out

Contact us at Kesteven Dental Care Studio today if you need treatment for TMJ. Start on the path to pain relief!  Dr. Cam Kesteven, a Gneuromuscular Dentist, diagnoses, treats jaw position and designs a treatment plan that will work for you. Whether your TMJ pain resulted from a recent accident or something that you have “managed” for a long time, help is available! Reach out to or 604-826-8087!