TMJ Pain Treatment

Millions of Americans suffer from chronic facial and neck pain as well as recurring headaches. In some cases, this pain is due to Temporomandibular Disorder, or TMD.

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Your temporomandibular joints (TMJ) connect your lower jawbone to your skull. These joints get a lot of use throughout the day as you speak, chew, swallow, and yawn. Pain in and around these joints can be unpleasant and may even restrict movement.

Symptoms of TMD include:

  • Pain in the jaw area
  • Pain, ringing, or stuffiness in the ears
  • Frequent headaches or neck aches
  • Clicking or popping sound when the jaw moves
  • Swelling on the sides of the face
  • Muscle spasms in the jaw area
  • A change in the alignment of top and bottom teeth
  • Locked jaw or limited opening of the mouth

Should you notice any of these symptoms, let your doctor know. Your dentist can help indicate the presence of TMD and create an effective treatment just for you.

There are a few simple steps you can take at home or work to prevent TMD from becoming more severe, or to prevent it from occurring:

  • Relax your face — remember the rule: “Lips together, teeth apart”
  • Avoid grinding your teeth
  • Avoid constant gum chewing
  • Don’t cradle the phone receiver between your head and shoulder — either use a headset or hold the receiver in your hand
  • Chew food evenly on both sides of your mouth
  • Do not sit with your chin rested on your hand
  • Practice good posture — keep your head up, back straight, and shoulders squared

Neuromuscular Dentistry

Neuromuscular dentistry is a specialized field of dentistry that focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD). The temporomandibular joints are extremely complex, as are the causes and effects of TMD – so complex that the disorder warrants its own dental subspecialty.

Neuromuscular dentistry is unlike any other dental field. For one, it is highly interdisciplinary, meaning that both diagnosis and treatment of TMD often require knowledge and expertise from a variety of medical and therapeutic fields, not just dentistry.

TMD is most often caused by malocclusion – the medical term for having a misaligned bite. This occurs when the upper and lower jaws are not properly aligned when you bite down or chew.

Dr. Firouzi is trained in the use of diagnostic technologies such as the TENS unit and CT scan that will evaluate, with pinpoint accuracy, the exact nature of your malocclusion. With the help of these neuromuscular dentistry technologies, Dr. Firouzi will be able to determine what your proper bite should look like. Using this information, he can put together an individualized treatment plan to correct your TMD.


The diagnosis and treatment of temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD) is among the most complex tasks in the entire dental field – so complex that an entire subspecialty called neuromuscular dentistry has been built around it. People suffered from TMD for centuries without any effective way to diagnose or treat it. Only in the last couple of decades has technology advanced to the point where effective diagnosis and treatment has even been possible.

Dr. Firouzi received his neuromuscular dentistry training at the Las Vegas Institute for Advanced Dental Studies (LVI), the most prestigious neuromuscular and cosmetic dentistry school in the nation. Successful completion of any neuromuscular dentistry program requires expert knowledge of today’s diagnostic and treatment technology. Here are a couple of the in-office technologies Dr. Firouzi uses to treat neuromuscular disorders:

The TENS Unit

The Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulator (TENS) is an essential tool for both the diagnosis and treatment of TMD. This tool is used to relax the numerous face, neck, jaw, and shoulder muscles that connect to and control the temporomandibular joints. One of the characteristic symptoms of TMD is muscle tension. These muscles are tense due to constant stress caused by the overcompensation that occurs due to malocclusion. For diagnostic purposes, these muscles must be relaxed in order for Dr. Firouzi to be able to determine what your proper bite alignment should be. If these muscles are not fully relaxed, then they will simply behave as they have been conditioned to, which is precisely what needs to be corrected.

The TENS unit is also helpful in the treatment of TMD. TMD does not develop overnight, nor does it go away overnight. It will take some time before your TMD-related muscle tension will go away. TENS unit treatments can aid in relaxing these muscles and alleviating any muscle-related pain.

CT Scan

The CT scan is one of the most important technologies in all of medicine. Dr. Firouzi uses CT imaging to map your teeth and jaw structure in order to determine the precise nature of your malocclusion and any other structural problems that may be causing your TMD.


Is there a difference between a neuromuscular dentist and a general dentist?

Yes. It is important to note that most general dentists do not have neuromuscular dentistry training. Most four-year general dental schools do not provide this training. Dr. Firouzi has completed extensive post-graduate training in neuromuscular dentistry at the Las Vegas Institute for Advanced Dental Studies (LVI), the world’s premier post-graduate neuromuscular and cosmetic dentistry training facility.

There is a great deal of confusion over this issue, particularly with our new TMD patients. The chief purpose of orthodontic braces is to straighten the teeth. While this does correct many bite problems, it does not necessarily correct all of them. In other words, your braces may have given you perfectly straight teeth while leaving you with a misaligned bite.

I am experiencing some of the symptoms of TMD, but they are not enough to disrupt my day-to-day routine. Should I worry about seeking treatment?

TMD is a tricky disorder. It can go on for years before the symptoms are severe enough to cause any significant pain. By the time most TMD patients do seek treatment, several of the principal symptoms are present and causing multiple points of discomfort. Like any disorder or disease, TMD is best caught early and treated early in order to prevent more serious problems in the future.

What are some things I can do at home to help my TMD?

Over-the-counter pain relievers, moist heat, and eating soft foods can help ease the pain of a TMD flare-up. Avoid stimulants such as caffeinated drinks or tobacco. Stretching and other relaxation techniques can also be very helpful. If you are experiencing any significant pain, you should get examined by an experienced neuromuscular dentist.

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