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TMJ (Tempro-Mandibular Joint Dysfunction)

Temporal-Mandibular Joint Dysfunction Syndrome (TMJ) is a common condition affecting a wide variety of people. TMJ is characterized by headaches, jaw pain of varying degrees, grinding teeth, and possibly an intermittent ringing in the ears. The vast majority of TMJ sufferers are unaware that the root cause of these problems is something that a dentist can effectively treat.

The symptoms of TMJ can be debilitating and can greatly interfere with everyday life. The comfort and general well being of the patient is at the heart of the dental practice, so pain relief is the first consideration of the dentist. The dentist is able to test, diagnose, and devise an immediate plan to treat the underlying causes of the TMJ disorder.

Reasons for treating TMJ

TMJ sufferers report that their symptoms generally worsen during periods of prolonged or unexpected stress, and that intense outbreaks of the condition can lead to neck pain, headaches and dizziness.

The most common cause of TMJ is the misalignment of the teeth or a “bad bite.” It is possible for the dentist to realign or adjust the teeth without the need for painful or expensive surgeries. The realignment/adjustment may stop the pounding headaches, the jaw pain, and the dizziness.

The grinding teeth symptom is particularly common and usually occurs at night. The grinding will eventually erode the structure of the teeth and lead to more severe dental problems in the future. Untreated TMJ is one of the prime underlying factors in eroded jawbones and loose teeth.

What does treating TMJ involve?

TMJ could be a result of several different problems. Bad bite is the most common, but an injury resulting from a blow to the meniscus cartilage is also a possibility. Initially, the dentist will thoroughly examine the jaw area, the patient's bite, take x-rays, and review the patient’s history in order to make an accurate diagnosis and recommend necessary treatment.

Once a firm diagnosis is attained, there are several ways in which relief can be provided. A specially molded bite guard can be created to stop teeth grinding during the night. A bite relationship analysis may be recommended by the dentist. The dentist can also provide advice on relaxation techniques which will lessen the effects of stress. As a last alternative, the dentist is also able to prescribe muscle relaxants.

A better option is to change the shape of the teeth and get rid of the bad bite completely, often called “realignment.” This is especially useful because it alleviates TMJ symptoms and may improve the aesthetic appearance of the teeth as well. Realignment involves adjusting the relationship between how the upper teeth come together with the lower teeth. This may require new restorations and/or adjusting the natural teeth as well.  In certain cases, orthodontics may be the appropriate treatment.  As with any procedure, Dr. Ko will be happy to answer questions and discuss symptoms, options, and treatments.

If you are experiencing any symptoms of TMJ, we encourage you to contact our office today to schedule an appointment.


Dr. John H. Ko is proud to bring his patients leading-edge dentistry. Dr. Ko and his entire team are dedicated to providing you with excellent, personalized care and service to make your visits as comfortable and pleasant as possible. Dr. Ko is dedicated to excellence in general, family & cosmetic dentistry, offering quality and gentle dental care in a stress free environment for adults, teens, and children in Pleasanton, Livermore, Dublin, San Ramon, Danville, Castro Valley and the surrounding Alameda County communities.

Our beautiful office is conveniently located at 5720 Stoneridge Mall Road, Suite 200, Pleasanton, CA 94588.

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