When To See An Oral Surgeon For TMJ Pain

woman holding jaw in pain

Dental problems can be excruciating, and when you’re dealing with temporomandibular joint (TMJ) pain, you may need to see an oral surgeon.

TMJ pain can be caused by a number of different things, and an oral surgeon will be able to determine the cause and provide you with the proper treatment. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms, it is important to see an oral surgeon as soon as possible.

What Is TMJ?

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the hinge joint that connects your jawbone to your skull. It lets you move your jaw up and down and side to side, so you can talk, chew, and yawn. It is the most used joint in your body. As such, it’s no surprise that this joint can sometimes cause problems. When TMJ pain strikes, it can range from annoying to debilitating.

TMJ Symptoms

TMJ problems can cause pain in your jaw and face. You might have trouble chewing or experience a clicking sound when you move your jaw. Other symptoms can include:

  • Pain in your jaw
  • Pain in your ear
  • Headaches
  • Neck pain

When To See an Oral Surgeon

There are a few major signs that indicate it is time to see an oral surgeon for your TMJ pain:

Eroded or Misaligned Jaw Joint Disk

If you have a displaced or eroded jaw joint disk, you may need to see an oral surgeon. The disk acts as a cushion between the bones in your TMJ, and when it becomes damaged, it can cause pain in the joint. An oral surgeon can diagnose this problem and recommend treatment options.

Damaged Cartilage From Arthritis

As we age, our bodies begin to show signs of wear and tear. This is especially true for our joints, which can become damaged from years of use. If you’re experiencing pain in your jaw or temporomandibular joint, it could be a sign that the cartilage in your joint is beginning to break down.

When this happens, it’s important to see an oral surgeon. They will be able to assess the damage and recommend the best course of treatment. In some cases, this may mean surgery to repair the joint.

Damaged Bone, Cartilage, or Connective Tissue From Trauma

If you have suffered a blow to the head or face, it’s important to seek medical attention right away, even if you do not think you have suffered any damage. A trained medical professional can assess whether there is any damage to the delicate bones, cartilage, or connective tissue in your jaw and face. If there is damage, it is important to see an oral surgeon as soon as possible for treatment. Left untreated, this type of damage can lead to long-term problems.

Tension Headaches

Tension headaches are often caused by teeth clenching or grinding, which can put pressure on the temporomandibular joint. This can lead to pain in the jaw, head, neck, and shoulders. It might start out as a dull ache that gets worse over time. You might also have trouble opening your mouth or chewing food.


If treatment is needed, here are the surgical treatments your doctor might consider:


Arthrocentesis is a minimally invasive surgical procedure used to treat TMJ pain. It involves the insertion of a needle into the joint space to remove debris and fluid. This can be done in the office under local anesthesia.


In arthroscopy, the surgeon makes small incisions in the mouth and inserts a thin, flexible camera called an arthroscope into the joint space. This allows the surgeon to see the joint structures and repair any damage.


This type of surgery is also known as joint replacement surgery. During arthroplasty, the surgeon will make incisions in your mouth to access the joints. The surgeon will then remove any damaged or diseased tissue and replace it with an artificial joint.


TMJ pain can be debilitating, making it difficult to eat, speak, or even open your mouth. It’s best to have your jaw checked by an oral surgeon, especially if the symptoms are severe or if you think you may have a TMJ disorder.

At Green Valley Oral Surgeons, we use the most advanced imaging technologies available to diagnose and treat TMJ disorders. We work with each patient to develop a personalized treatment plan that may include medication, physical therapy, splint therapy, or surgery. Contact us today!