Lula Tsegay, DDS -  - General Dentist

Dr. Lula Tsegay Family Dentistry

Lula Tsegay, DDS

General Dentist located in San Leandro, CA

Do you experience jaw pain when you eat? Do you feel that your upper and lower jaws are out of alignment when you open and close your mouth? If so, you may have TMJ, a disorder of the jaw joint. Dr. Lula Tsegay, a leading family dentist in San Leandro, California, has treated hundreds of cases of TMJ in her more than two decades in practice. Call or book an appointment online with Dr. Lula Tsegay Family Dentistry today for relief from TMJ pain.


What is TMJ?

The initials TMJ abbreviate the name of your temporomandibular joint, the joint between your lower jaw and your upper jaw, which connects to your skull. This joint is one of the most complex in your body, capable of moving forward and backward and side-to-side. If the joint sustains an injury, you may experience pain in the joint, called temporomandibular joint (TMJ) syndrome.

What are the symptoms associated with TMJ?

Pain in your face, jaw, or neck are common symptoms. You may experience pain when chewing food. When you open or close your mouth, you may feel a click or pop in your jaw joint. Moving your jaw up and down may cause discomfort, and your upper and lower jaws may feel uneven when you close your mouth. Headaches are also a symptom; pain may radiate into the temple area.

What causes TMJ?

Experts are not sure what causes TMJ. In the past, a bad bite or even braces were thought to be culprits. However, research does not support these beliefs. Bruxism, or teeth grinding and clenching while asleep has been associated with TMJ.

What are the most effective treatments for TMJ?

Experts recommend conservative, non-surgical treatment. In many instances, TMJ is temporary; with self-care practices, it may resolve on its own. Following are home remedies that help with TMJ symptoms:

  • Eating soft foods
  • Using over-the-counter pain medications on a temporary basis
  • Using ice packs on the jaw
  • Using stress reduction techniques
  • Eliminating movements that create wide openings in the jaw such as yawning or chewing gum
  • Using gentle stretching exercises prescribed by your dentist or a physical therapist 

When TMJ does not resolve on its own, Dr. Tsegay may recommend a dental splint, or bite guard, that fits over your upper and/or lower teeth. The bite guard is designed to prevent teeth grinding when you are asleep. You can find bite guards in drug stores, but they are not made to fit your mouth, may cause discomfort, and could make the problem worse. Bite guards can be custom-made from impressions of your teeth so that they fit your mouth well. However, new bite guard technology now allows a custom fit without impressions; these new bite guards allow water and air to pass through them for greater wearability.