TMJ/TMD Treatment in Albuquerque

What Is TMJ/TMD?

TMJ/TMD are acronyms used to refer to “temporomandibular joint disorder.” This is a painful condition that can affect the small joints that connect your jaw to each side of your skull. These joints are quite delicate, and are located just below your ears. When the temporomandibular joints are not functioning properly, this is called TMJ/TMD. 

TMJ/TMD can cause a lot of different painful symptoms. You may experience jaw pain when eating or biting, radiating pain from your jaw, headaches, or ear pain. In some cases, you may even have trouble opening and closing your jaw, or it may “lock” in place temporarily. You may also hear clicking and popping noises when you open or close your jaw. 

If you think you have TMJ/TMD in Albuquerque, Dr. Becky Chiem is here to help. Contact us now to schedule an appointment at Coronado Family Dental, and get the expert care you need to resolve your condition. Don't hesitate to stop by our office located at 11130 Lomas Blvd NE Suite F2, Albuquerque, NM 87112.

TMJ Treatment Albuquerque

Did you know…

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About 12% of people suffer from TMJ/TMD, making it one of the most common jaw disorders in the United States.

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Common Causes & Contributing Factors For TMJ/TMD

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Jaw overuse

For example, chewing a large amount of gum for a long time or consistently eating really tough or hard-to-chew foods can put a lot of stress on the joint, resulting in TMJ/TMD.

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Teeth grinding (bruxism)

Consistent, severe, and prolonged teeth grinding is a common contributing factor to TMJ/TMD. Constantly clenching and grinding stresses the temporomandibular joint, and can cause jaw pain.

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Joint trauma

Being struck in the face can cause TMJ/TMD if the joint is damaged and becomes inflamed. This is particularly common in people who play contact sports.

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Some types of arthritis and other autoimmune diseases can cause inflammation of the jaw joints, which may contribute to or cause TMJ/TMD.

Treatment Options For TMJ/TMD

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Night Guard/Occlusal Guard

A night guard, also known as an “occlusal guard,” can be very useful in treating TMJ/TMD. Also called an “occlusal splint,” nightguards for TMJ are designed to cushion your teeth and protect them from grinding, and also to move your jaw into a healthier position as you sleep, allowing it to heal. 

This treatment is particularly effective for patients who grind their teeth. An occlusal splint treats both bruxism and TMJ/TMD at once. Along with lifestyle changes like eating soft foods and physical therapy, this is a great way to treat mild to moderate cases of TMJ/TMD.


Botox is becoming more common for TMJ/TMD treatment. This is because Botox has the unique ability to paralyze the facial muscles. This is how it smooths out the skin when it’s used for cosmetic purposes. Botox paralyzes some facial muscles and causes them to relax, which eliminates wrinkles.

The same thing happens when Botox is injected into jaw muscles. It partially paralyzes them, and can provide you with relief from the pain of TMJ/TMD, particularly if you grind your teeth. Botox has been shown to help improve oral range of motion and reduce pain, and it may be a good option for you at your dentist in Albuquerque, NM.

Have Questions About Dental Sedation? Find Answers Here.

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Will I Be Able to Drive After Sedation?

This depends on the specific type of sedation being used. At Coronado Family Dental, we offer nitrous oxide and oral conscious sedation, neither of which are especially intense sedatives that will put you under. 

While you will be able to drive after receiving nitrous oxide, you won’t after oral conscious sedation. Laughing gas is a very mild sedative that completely wears off after a few minutes of flowing steady oxygen into your gas mask. 

This removes all remnants of nitrous oxide and the sedative doesn’t cause lingering hangover effects like other sedatives do. This means most people can drive themselves to and from their appointments and return to activities like normal.

Because oral conscious sedation is a deeper form of sedation that needs to be taken an hour before your appointment, you will not be able to drive. You need to arrange for someone to drive you to your appointment as well as drive you home. 

The sedative’s side effects of drowsiness, lethargy, and lightheadedness can last for up to 24 hours so you should rest for the rest of the day and avoid strenuous activity and driving for the next 24 hours.

How Long Will I Be Sedated?

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With nitrous oxide, you will feel the onset of the effects within 1-2 minutes of administering the gas. This will last for the duration of your procedure and then we will flush the mask with pure oxygen. Within a couple of minutes, the sedative will have completely left your body.

Oral conscious sedation lasts much longer – typically about 2-8 hours. However, there will still be some lingering effects for up to 24 hours which is why you will still be limited in your activities until the next day. We may need to monitor you after your appointment for about an hour or so before we can let you go home.

How does the TMJ/TMD treatment process work?

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During your first visit, you will meet Dr. Becky for your initial TMJ/TMD treatment consultation. You will have the opportunity to let her know about the pain you are feeling and other issues affecting your mouth and jaw.

Your Dr. Becky will then perform an examination, which includes x-rays to check your jaw’s position and the structure of your face. With this information, she’ll figure out if TMD is the problem.

After the diagnosis, Dr. Becky will provide you with a TMJ/TMD treatment plan. The plan could entail options such as lifestyle changes, the use of an oral appliance to reposition your jaws, and a night guard to encourage healing as you sleep.

What are TMD treatment options?

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Dr. Becky may recommend using a night guard to protect your teeth from bruxism, a common cause of TMD. The night guard looks like a retainer or mouthguard and is made of thick plastic.

Surgery is usually the last option for TMD treatment and is recommended in rare circumstances where other treatment options are unsuccessful. The procedure may involve operating on the joint or may involve a corrective surgery that aims at aligning the jaw muscles, your bite, or the jaw joints.

Does TMD get worse without treatment?

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Yes, TMD can worsen without treatment, especially if it goes untreated for long periods. Early diagnosis and treatment can help avoid joint and surrounding muscle complications and improve your overall quality of life.

Can TMJ be Cured?

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Yes, TMJ can certainly be cured. Depending on the severity of your symptoms, Coronado Family Dental can tailor a treatment plan to suit your needs. Our experienced and knowledgeable team of doctors utilizes minimally invasive techniques to alleviate pain and restore optimal jaw function. We use the latest technology to diagnose and treat TMD so you can rediscover your lifestyle and quality of life.

What are the Symptoms of TMD?

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TMJ/TMD can cause many symptoms, including jaw pain or tenderness, limited jaw movement, clicking and popping sounds when opening or closing your mouth, headaches, neck aches, dizziness, and earaches.