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If you are experiencing extensive headaches or pain in the jawbone region, cheeks, or neck, TMJ may be to blame. Consistent pain here results from misalignment of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), simplified as the “jaw joint.” This is a ball and socket joint, connecting the lower part of the jaw with the lower part of the skull.


  • Clicking sounds coming from the joint
  • Feeling that the jaw is stuck in either the open or closed position
  • Muscle pain in cheeks and temples
  • Jaw stiffness, specifically in the morning
  • Sharp pain in the joint itself, reminiscent of arthritis in other joints
  • Bad bites (malocclusions)
  • Shifting related to missing teeth
  • Treatments

Before beginning to treat TMJ, an official diagnosis should be made by your dentist. The jaw joints share similar nerve networks with the teeth and sinuses, as well as neck and back muscles. The pain you feel near your jaw could be originating from one of these other locations.

Dr. Walton is very familiar with diagnosing TMJ and offers a variety of treatment options to his patients. Morning jaw stiffness is often a result of the habit of teeth grinding or clenching during sleep, so he may recommend an occlusal nightguard. Specifically engineered for your mouth and jaw movements, the guard can be worn throughout the night to prevent your teeth from forcefully making contact with each other.

If a patient’s TMJ is stemming from bite problems, orthodontic approaches are available, as well as teeth crowning or reshaping. These types of treatments will result in permanent changes to the teeth or mouth structure, with hopes of altering the jaw position to significantly relieve TMJ symptoms.

As for general pain management, this is best handled by medication, massage, rest, a soft diet and physical therapy. Cold and hot alternating therapies, like ice and warming packs, applied to the jaw can relieve pain and relax the muscles, aiding in the comfort of patients. Finding the right treatment mix is key and Dr. Walton is confident he can help his patients do just that.

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