tmj Alexandria

TMJ/TMD Treatment in Old Town, Alexandria

Jaw clicking, soreness, tension, or a limited ability to open your mouth can compromise your comfort and keep you from chewing with natural ease. This pain often stems from Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction, also known as TMD or TMJ. It's a jaw disorder that can involve your jaw joint, jaw muscles, and/or a "bad bite." Relief is possible! Whether you have been dealing with this for a long period of time, or if this is a more sudden flare-up, your symptoms can often be resolved with a variety of minimally invasive, highly tailored treatments. 

Alexandria tmj treatment

Why Should I Get TMJ/TMD Treatment?

If you are one of the over 30% of Americans who suffer from pain in your jaw, there is help available! We know how disheartening it is to live with this type of discomfort, and to feel worried that you might have to deal with this forever. There are many conservative treatments available to help you restore your oral range of motion, reduce or hopefully eliminate your pain, and get you back to your day-to-day routine and enjoying your favorite foods. As you may be experiencing, the discomfort of dealing with TMJ/TMD can be distracting, debilitating, and very inconvenient. It can stop you from eating your favorite foods, chewing normally, yawning freely, or even speaking without pain and discomfort. In many cases, these issues start slowly and continue to develop over time, whereas in other cases, they can happen suddenly after a traumatic event that results in a jaw injury. TMJ/TMD issues can also involve a variety of other factors, including but not limited to genetics, certain medical conditions, tongue ties, certain medications, posture, sleep apnea, stress, and several other factors. While many people associate clenching and grinding with "TMJ," many people who habitually clench or grind their teeth never develop the discomfort associated with TMD.

Seeking treatment as early in the process is important. Symptoms typically respond best when dealt with early on. However, even if it has been a long period of time, it is still very important to be evaluated for treatment, as many cases will not improve on their own, and require some type of intervention or supportive therapies to help you feel better.

Our system for TMJ/TMD assessment is very thorough, and involves a complete physical assessment of the head and neck, including your jaw joint, all supportive muscles of the jaw, neck, and shoulders, as well as an in-depth evaluation of your bite and appropriate imaging of the jaw joint, when relevant. This assessment, paired with a very detailed discussion of your history, is critical in determining what type of treatment will be most suitable for you. TMJ/TMD treatment is not a one-size-fits-all, and our office takes great pride in the depth of our evaluation. We also work with other professionals well-versed in TMJ/TMD management, as true relief is often interdisciplinary and can be ongoing. Call us today for a comprehensive evaluation to determine how we can help.

Did you know…

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30% of Americans suffer from jaw pain.

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Advanced Tools for Precise Care

While traditional X-rays provide 2-dimensional images, we are proud to have a highly sophisticated Cone-Beam Computed Tomography (CBCT) scanner in our office, which can capture a 360 view of your jaw, teeth, sinuses, and other oral structures. This unparalleled precision allows your dentist to provide the most accurate diagnosis for your unique condition.


Reviewing your history, including your medical, dental, and emotional/psychological history, can provide very pertinent clues that can be important in understanding the full picture of your condition. A detailed review of any traumatic events, including physical or emotional events, as well as a review of any modalities you have already attempted thus far in managing your symptoms will be reviewed and taken into consideration, prior to the physical examination.

in-depth physical assessment: jaw joints, muscles, and bite

Our comprehensive approach includes a very thorough physical examination, where Dr. Ahmed will evaluate, manipulate, and test the structure and function of your jaw joints, the muscles supporting your jaw joints, neck and shoulders, as well as a full assessment of your "bite," or occlusion. Understanding the interplay between these three elements is critical in truly deciphering your particular condition, and how best to treat it. TMJ symptoms show up in many different ways, and all require different approaches for best outcomes. Based on the results of your assessment, a plan will be provided to you, focusing on increasing stability and providing pain relief.


With the Trios Intraoral Scanner, we can take an ultra high-definition, non-invasive 3D digital scan that captures the form and structure of your mouth as well as your bite, for optimal fit of our custom TMJ orthotics and other appliances. It is a fully digital process and the scan takes only a few minutes - no putty necessary, and no gagging on large impression trays!

Custom TMJ Orthotics

One of the least invasive and most comfortable treatment options for treating TMD symptoms, is a custom-fitted orthotic. Orthotics come in many shapes and sizes, and serve many different functions! They are never a one-size-fits all, and you should be wary of offices that only offer one single type of appliance to all TMJ/TMD patients. Orthotics are highly specific to treat particular conditions and symptoms, which is why the history and physical, as well as imaging, is so important. Our custom orthotics are designed to stabilize the jaw joint and/or muscles while alleviating symptoms for personalized comfort and support.

Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS)

TENS therapies have been used for muscle tension and chronic pain relief for decades, for tension issues all over the body. Our professional-grade TENS device for TMJ pain offers non-invasive pain relief by using low-voltage electrical currents to relax muscle tension and improve blood circulation in the affected areas. It has been shows to provide rapid reduction in pain, and is especially effective for patients who are experiencing acute spasm and are unable to fully open their mouths. 

Interdisciplinary Collaboration

Management of TMJ/TMD is often multidisciplinary, and wearing a custom fit and properly adjusted orthotic may not be enough for your condition. We pride ourselves on our collaborative approach, working with a dedicated team of specialists to ensure comprehensive, interdisciplinary care for complex TMJ/TMD cases, including physical therapists, massage therapists, oral surgeons, orthodontists, chiropractors, neurologists, ENTs, and your primary care physician, when necessary. It can take a village to treat your discomfort and truly help you live a symptom-free life.


Once your jaw muscles and joints have stabilized to the point where you are out of, or mostly out of pain, have an improved range of motion in your jaw, and are feeling like yourself again, a second phase of treatment is sometimes necessary to maintain or hold your bite into its new position. There are various ways to accomplish this, if you are a candidate for this phase of treatment, including full mouth bite balancing, orthodontic treatment, restorative treatment to stabilize your bite, etc. Each case is very unique, and your options will be discussed with you personally.

The Benefits of TMJ/TMD Treatment

Relieve Your Pain And Discomfort

In some cases, TMJ/TMD can cause serious, chronic jaw pain, headaches, or overall sore head and neck muscles that can interfere with your ability to concentrate, focus on school or your job,  enjoy your favorite foods, and live your day-to-day life. With proper treatment at our office, you can  take the first steps to feeling like yourself again.

Restore your Oral "Range Of Motion"

TMJ/TMD issues can cause your muscles to tighten and spasm, and can even sometimes make your jaw “lock.” This can make it hard to open and close your mouth properly, which can interfere with biting, eating, and even speaking. Properly diagnosing the source of your limited range of motion is the first step in determining appropriate treatment. Successful TMJ/TMD can restore your oral range of motion and help you open your mouth with ease.

Treat Other Related Problems

TMJ/TMD can be related to and coexist with several other medical conditions, including tinnitus (ringing of the ears), forward head posture/"tech neck," teeth grinding, chronic headaches, neck and upper back stiffness,  medication interactions, and more. With proper treatment from a qualified dentist who has specific TMJ training, you can oftentimes get relief from a variety of symptoms that may be related to TMJ/TMD.

The TMJ/TMD Treatment Process

Initial Consultation, examination, & diagnosis

TMJ/TMD symptoms can be caused by a variety of factors, as mentioned above. Some of these factors can be excessive forces on the teeth such as from a bad bite or excessive tooth grinding, certain medical conditions including some auto-immune conditions or arthritis of the jaw joint, direct trauma to the jaw, a side effect of certain medications, life stress, etc. The first step is to come to our office for an appointment. Dr. Ahmed will review all your relevant personal history, including medical, dental, and psychological history, as well as perform a comprehensive TMJ examination to best determine what might be causing your TMJ/TMD. Imaging of the joints with either a CT scan or MRI can also be a very useful tool for complete diagnostic accuracy.

Developing Your Treatment Plan

Once Dr. Ahmed has determined the potential causes of your issue, she will work with you to develop a custom treatment plan that best suits your particular needs. This could include therapies such as oral appliances/custom orthotics, bite correction, a sleep study and appropriate treatment, lifestyle modification, medication management, Botox or dry needling, physical therapy, massage, chiropractic care, and/or other modalities that may be pertinent to you. 

long term care and maintenance

Along with your initial TMJ/TMD treatment plan from your dentist, you will be given information and recommendations on longer term care to help keep you feeling comfortable, and  to keep your pain levels minimal. These recommendations can be highly specific based on your particular needs. Dr. Ahmed will also review with you if you will benefit from a second phase of treatment for long-term stability, once your joints and muscles are feeling looser and more comfortable. 

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Frequently Asked Questions

Check out these frequently asked questions, or call us to speak with our team.

What are TMD symptoms?

The symptoms of TMD vary quite a bit depending on the patient. You may experience issues like:

  • Pain and stiffness
  • Headaches, including migraines
  • Clicking or popping noises when moving your jaw
  • Difficulty opening your jaws all the way
  • Pain when chewing or eating
  • If you notice any of these symptoms, we recommend scheduling an appointment with your dentist right away to get help.

    What causes TMD?

    TMD and TMJ pain can be caused by a variety of different issues. Some of these include:

    - Direct trauma to the temporomandibular joint

    - Inflammatory and/or autoimmune disorders such as arthritis

    - Posture issues such as forward neck position

    - Anatomic/structural issues and bodily asymmetries

    - Developmental disorders of the jaw/skeletal abnormalities

    - Excessive bruxism/tooth grinding

    - Tongue ties

    - Sleep apnea

    - Head and neck injury

    - "Bad bites"/dental malocclusions

    - Lifestyle factors including excessive gum chewing

    - ...and many other issues!

    Because TMJ/TMD pain and symptoms can be caused by as well as exacerbated by so many different health issues, it’s important to see an experienced dentist when seeking care.

    Can TMD go away on its own?

    Some cases of mild TMD may go away on their own with lifestyle changes, such as ceasing gum chewing, de-stressing to eliminate teeth clenching, using a soft food diet for a period of time, and more. This is especially true for pain or symptoms that begin suddenly or can be traced to a particularly stressful time in your life. 

    However, if you suffer from the symptoms of TMD for more than a few weeks, your condition may be developing into a more chronic condition that needs professional support. Your age, health, and anatomy are also involved in this variation. To learn more about your specific case of TMD, it’s best to seek a qualified, experienced dentist to get the help you need.

    How can I treat TMJ pain on my own?

    There are a variety of at-home stretches and movements that you can do to help minor cases of TMD related to muscle tension or soreness. Applying a hot compress to the area at 10-minute intervals can also help with inflammation and control the pain and discomfort of TMD as your jaw muscle heals.

    It is also a good idea to take steps to decrease stress in your life however possible, to reduce the likelihood of clenching, grinding, and holding tension in your jaw, neck and shoulders. Many people find great success with mindfulness-based meditation, yoga, as well as exercise and stretching. You may also want to consider ceasing gum chewing, and eating a diet of mostly soft foods to minimize the work your jaw muscles must do while they heal.

    Many people find relief with over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen, to help control pain as well as swelling in your muscles or joints. It is important to note that these are not a long-term, ongoing solution, and there can be side effects to your gut lining when these medicines are used in excess.

    While some cases of TMD are minor and can be "resolved" with these simple steps and other at-home remedies, you should consider seeking help if you experience serious pain and discomfort, or if your symptoms persist several weeks or longer.

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