TMJ (temporomandibular joint) Pain

What is TMJ?

The temporomandibular (tem-puh-roe-mun-DIB-u-lur) joint (TMJ) acts like a sliding hinge, connecting your jawbone to your skull. You have one joint on each side of your jaw. TMJ disorders — a type of temporomandibular disorder or TMD — can cause pain in your jaw joint and in the muscles that control jaw movement.

The exact cause of a person’s TMJ disorder is often difficult to determine. Your pain may be due to a combination of factors, such as genetics, arthritis or jaw injury. Some people who have jaw pain also tend to clench or grind their teeth, although many people habitually clench or grind their teeth and never develop TMJ disorders.

In most cases, the pain and discomfort associated with TMJ disorders is temporary and can be relieved with self-managed care or nonsurgical treatments. Surgery is typically a last resort after conservative measures have failed, but some people with TMJ disorders may benefit from surgical treatments.

The Symptoms of TMJ

  • Pain While Chewing

  • Pain in the Ear, Face, Jaw, and Neck

  • Clicking, Grating, or Popping Sounds in the Jaw

  • Locking of the Jaw Joint

  • Headaches

Treatments for TMJ

Give Your Jaw a Break

Treat it Like a Muscle Injury

Muscle Relaxation Exercises

More Treatment Options

Check your posture: Poor posture places the spine in a position that causes stress to the jaw joint. When people slouch or hunch over, the lower jaw shifts forward, causing the upper and lower teeth to not fit together properly, and the skull moves back on the spinal column. This movement puts stress on muscles, joints and bones and, if left untreated, can create pain and inflammation in muscles and joints when the mouth opens and closes.

Get a sleep study: TMD is often caused by grinding the teeth at night, which is a sign that you’re struggling to keep your airway open while you sleep. Recent studies are showing that TMD symptoms are often indicators of a larger disorder – and that includes sleep apnea. A mandibular advancement device, which is made by your dentist and used to treat sleep apnea, often cures TMD because it positions the jaw in a such a way that forces it to relax completely. Assuming the device is worn at night, eight hours of forced relaxation every day can be very effective in reversing TMD symptoms.

Check your stress levels: We often clench without realizing it—and TMD can often be resolved by treating a root cause of major stress, unhappiness in work or at home, etc.

Bite guards: Many dentists will recommend custom bite guards to reduce clenching and grinding of teeth at night to reduce stress on the TMJ. These guards will help the jaw alignment so that the joint can rest. However, make sure that you and your dentist have ruled out sleep apnea as a night guard has the potential to interfere with your sleep and make your grinding worse.
Sleep apnea treatment: A sleep apnea specialist will work with you to design a specific treatment plan if you are diagnosed with sleep apnea. Grinding all night long to keep your airway open is not conducive to TMJ health.

What Our Happy Customers are Saying

Going to the dentist has always caused me anxiety, but not at Veenstra! The cleanings are fast and easy; and as for the fillings, I didn’t even feel the needle for the Novocain! All of the staff are so friendly and welcoming. I’ve never had to wait for an appt either! We see Dr. Eric and he’s the best!

Jen C.
Jen C.

Very friendly – Very professional. I recommend Dr. Eric without reservation.

Jeff W.
Jeff W.

The staff is very welcoming and friendly. Dr. Eric makes you feel at ease and the hygienists are outstanding! They cater to your needs/comfort and are very flexible with scheduling! I highly recommend!

Nicholas G.
Nicholas G.

ABSOLUTLEY AMAZING! I am so thrilled that Dr. Eric and his team were recommended! I have never felt more comfortable with a dentist; from the very first call to make an appointment the staff was helpful, friendly, and pleasant!

Alicia P.
Alicia P.

I’m a new patient and not normally a big fan of going to the dentist. However, I thought the hygienist (Nancy) and Dr. Eric did a SUPERB job during my dental appointment yesterday. Thank you so much … 🙂 !

George W.
George W.

Staff is friendly, knowledgeable, and they do a great job of accommodating people whom have had bad experiences in the past. Dr. Eric did an excellent job of explaining the process I was going through and why it needed to be done. His assistant went above and beyond explaining the condition I had and how to handle the recovery.

Ed P.
Ed P.

Why Choose Us?

  • Nice clean environment which is relaxing and also takes your mind off treatment.
  • The latest technology to offer the best treatment.
  • Imaging software to show what can be done to your smile before you have anything done.
  • Payment options to allow to spread the investment into affordable monthly payments

Meet Dr. Doug and Dr. Eric Veenstra

Dr. Eric, the oldest of four children to Dr. Doug and Patti Veenstra, was born and raised in Wyckoff, New Jersey.He graduated Eastern Christian HS in 1999, Calvin College (Grand Rapids, Michigan) in 2003, and UMDNJ (currently Rutgers Dental School) in 2007. Following graduation from Dental School, Dr. Eric joined his father, Dr. Doug, in his practice in Midland Park, NJ that was originally established in 1981. They have loved working together and feel blessed to continually grow in their service to the community where they’ve been for over 35 years.

Dr. Eric values providing the best treatment and the best experience for his patients. and that has led him to pursue hundreds of hours in advanced dental education. He specifically focused his education for several years to implant dentistry when he saw a need in his practice to give his patients the best treatment options available. He completed an externship from NYU Implant Continuum in 2010, an externship from the Misch International Implant Institute in 2012, and an AAID Maxicourse in Implant Studies from Rutgers University in 2015.

In 2013, he married his beautiful wife Kimberly and has since had two precious little girls: Madelyn and Dorothy, whom he couldn’t love more! He loves the time he gets to spend with his ‘Girls’ as well as enjoying sports, music, food and being surrounded by friends and family. Over the years he has coached children soccer teams, volunteered his dental abilities on mission trips to Honduras and Africa, and has always been involved with his church.

Dr. Eric truly enjoys taking the time to get to know his patients, considers them friends, and feels blessed to be able to care for them.

Veenstra Family Dental

Making Your Smile a Work of Art!


Call Us at (201) 447-0300