Your temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the place where your jaw connects to your skull to allow you to open and close your mouth easily. Sometimes the TMJ is injured or damaged, leading to a painful condition called temporomandibular joint disorder or dysfunction (TMD). If you are having pain or hearing noises whenever you open your jaw, schedule an appointment with Dr. Kevin Boulard, our general dentist. He will examine you to see if you have TMD. At Something To Smile About in Merrimack, NH, Dr. Boulard uses innovative tools to diagnose your TMD. Your TMJ treatment will be dependent on the cause of your TMD and your specific condition, but a few choices include oral appliances (mouth or night guards), bite modifications, dental restorations, and more.


Pain at the temporomandibular joint can both interfere with everyday activities and lead to more serious problems in the future. Benefits of treating TMJ pain at Something To Smile About with Dr. Boulard and his experienced team include:

  • Reducing jaw, neck, and facial pain
  • Minimizing headaches
  • Decreasing clicking and/or popping in the jaw
  • Diminishing the risk of tooth damage associated with grinding
  • Enhancing jaw mobility
  • Restoring the function and appearance of your teeth
  • More comfortability eating and chewing
  • Better sleep


TMJ could be caused by an injury to the jaw, years of grinding your teeth and clenching your jaw (bruxism), or a misaligned bite (dental malocclusion). Medical conditions that may lead to advancing this condition may include the development of a tumor in the TMJ or arthritis. If you’re experiencing symptoms, Dr. Boulard can diagnose and treat you. The most common signs of TMD are tenderness or pain in the jaw, spasms in your face muscles, feeling as though your jaw is stiff or stuck, and headaches that begin around your ears. Another sign is hearing popping, clicking, or cracking whenever you use your jaw.


To diagnose a TMJ, Dr. Boulard will carefully listen and review your concerns before performing a physical examination. Throughout the exam, he will assess the movement of your jaw and search for indications of teeth grinding, jaw clenching, and misalignment of your teeth. He will also palpate the jaw and surrounding area for any swelling and tenderness. Dr. Boulard may request digital images of your lower face or an analysis of your bite to look for underlying factors that could determine your therapy approach. Depending on the examination, he will go over your treatment choices that might include a mouth guard, orthodontics, or restorations (bridges, crowns, and dentures).


Along with procedures to address the root cause of your TMD, Dr. Boulard may suggest other means to ease pain and other symptoms on your own. This includes eating softer foods, avoiding biting your nails or chewing gum, heat packs on your jaw, and relaxation techniques. Dr. Boulard may also give you exercises to strengthen your jaws or prescribe medicine to relax your facial muscles and to ease pain, anxiety, or inflammation.

Continue going to follow-up appointments so Dr. Boulard can check the results of your TMJ therapy. If your therapy is not helping, he will try another strategy. You should still schedule annual dental exams at Something To Smile About to keep your mouth healthy and your symptoms in check.


What are the most common symptoms of TMJ?

  • Headaches
  • Pain (teeth, jaw, neck, face, throat, head)
  • Constant earache without an infection
  • Ringing in ears (tinnitus)
  • “Stuffy” or “muffled” feeling in ears
  • Clicking or popping in the jaw
  • Limited ability to move or open your jaw

Is surgery the only option to treat TMJ?

No, it isn’t. Dr. Boulard offers a wide variety of TMJ treatment options, allowing him to personalize your treatment plan to address your unique TMJ problems. Some of the treatment options include mouth guards, orthodontics, dental restorations, and more.

How common is TMJ?

In the U.S., around 12% of people have some type of TMJ issue, with more women experiencing TMJ than men.

Does TMJ go away on its own?

Unfortunately, many TMJ conditions are progressive, meaning they get worse over time. That’s why Dr. Boulard recommends early diagnosis and treatment for TMJ to improve your health and overall wellbeing.


TMJ pain can make it hard to eat, speak, and enjoy your everyday life. Since there are lots of possible causes, signs, and solutions for this condition, schedule a consultation with Dr. Boulard at his office in Merrimack, NH. He will perform a detailed examination prior to diagnosing the problem and discussing treatment choices. Get in touch with our staff at Something To Smile About to get more information and schedule an appointment.