Dr. Kathleen Mullaney • DDS • FAGD

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TMJ Treatment in Alexandria, VA

TMJ Treatment in Alexandria, VA

Do you experience pain or clicking noises when you open and close your mouth? How about jaw tightness and locking? If so, you might need TMJ treatment.

Dr. Kathleen Mullaney, DDS, provides TMJ treatment in Alexandria, VA. Find out how we diagnose and treat TMJ disorders here.

What Is Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMD)?

Your temporomandibular joint (TMJ) connects your upper and lower jawbones. It’s located on both sides of the head and allows you to open and close your mouth.

TMJ disorder, also called TMD, occurs when the muscles and nerves surrounding the temporomandibular joint experience inflammation, resulting in severe pain in the face, jaw, neck, and even shoulders. Symptoms of TMD usually range from mild to severe.

TMD Symptoms

TMD typically causes severe jaw pain and discomfort, though you might also experience tightness or locking of the jaw. If left untreated, symptoms of TMD can also include:

  • Severe headaches or migraines
  • Pain in the neck, face, and shoulders
  • Swelling on both sides of the face
  • Difficulty chewing or opening and closing the mouth
  • Toothaches
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Dizziness

While you might experience one or several symptoms, you should seek TMJ treatment as soon as possible to avoid complications. Our Alexandria dentist can diagnose your symptoms and prescribe a treatment plan.

What Causes TMJ Pain?

There isn’t a single cause of TMJ disorder. However, several factors can trigger the condition, including but not limited to the following:

  • Overuse of the jaw
  • Grinding or clenching your teeth
  • Severe facial trauma
  • Misaligned bite
  • Tooth loss
  • Arthritis
  • Stress
  • Genetics


How Long Does TMJ Pain Last?

In most cases, it depends on the severity of the underlying condition. Some TMD symptoms last anywhere from a few days to weeks. However, if teeth grinding or arthritis causes your TMJ pain, it could last for months or years. Fortunately, treatment and proper care should help relieve your symptoms.

Types of TMJ Disorders

There are three types of TMJ disorders including:

  • Muscle disorders – Repeated grinding and clenching cause most muscle disorders. Symptoms usually extend from the muscles around the jaw. Muscle disorders are the most common type of TMD.
  • Degenerative joint disorders – For most, degenerative disc disorder results from osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or a perforated TMJ disc. Other causes include misaligned bites and jaw overuse.
  • Internal derangement disorders – Internal derangement means a structural deformity of the jaw. Displaced TMJ discs, severe facial trauma, and jaw dislocation can all result in this type of TMD. Risk factors might also include grinding, clenching, or jaw overuse.

You can experience one or more of these disorders at the same time.

Our dentist, Dr. Mullaney, will ask about your medical history and perform an oral exam to diagnose your TMD. She’ll assess for pain and tenderness and may recommend x-rays to rule out other dental problems. Dr. Mullaney will work closely with you to determine which type of TMJ disorder you have and how to treat it.

TMD Treatment

In some cases, TMD goes away on its own. However, you have several treatment options if symptoms persist. To start, Dr. Mullaney may recommend a combination of at-home practices, including:

  • Avoid clenching or tensing your jaw (no chewing gum, wide-mouthed yawns, etc.)
  • Try a soft food diet
  • Use heat or ice to reduce swelling
  • Reduce stress
  • Opt for over-the-counter medication

If symptoms don’t improve with the treatments above, Dr. Mullaney may then prescribe the following:

  • Mouthguards to prevent teeth grinding
  • Prescription medication to relax the jaw muscles
  • Physical therapy
  • Surgery

TMJ surgery is generally only an option if other conservative treatments fail to reduce symptoms. It’s better to try safe, non-invasive therapies first before turning to surgery.

TMJ Therapy in Alexandria, VA

Dr. Kathleen Mullaney, DDS, offers TMJ treatment as part of our restorative dentistry services in Omaha, NE.

If you think you have TMD and would like a second opinion, call 240-532-3335 or contact us today to schedule an appointment. With over 25 years of experience, we proudly serve patients in Old Town, VA, and the surrounding areas.

Deal of the Day

* Includes necessary X-rays, Velscope Oral Cancer Screening and periodontal examination
(New Patients Only, excludes cleaning. Not billable to insurance)

Trusted in the Community

Had my first visit to Dr. Mullaney’s office this month since the pandemic and the experience was gold standard. The safety processes and clean office environment were impeccable. Dr. Mullaney and staff were, as usual, amazing. Every step was explained, the protective garments worn by staff were the best I have experienced. It was a safe and positive visit and I recommend making an appointment!!

I am a new patient. After my first dentist appointment with Dr. Mullaney, I left feeling very informed and in control of ultimately making decisions about the care and treatment I receive. The staff is incredibly kind and knowledgeable. I love that they participate in helping veterans through The Freedom Day USA program. They are committed to providing a very clean and friendly atmosphere. In addition this practice goes out of its way to bring comfort and the latest in dentistry to all their patients.

I never thought that a person could enjoy going to the dentist until I started seeing Dr. Mullaney. Her attractive and serene office and Dr. Mullaney and her competent and friendly staff make every visit a pleasure. They have a gift for making each experience smooth and efficient, with meticulous attention to the patient’s needs and comfort. On a scale of 1 to 10 this practice is a 15!

Dr. Mullaney and her staff are absolutely wonderful. They are very professional, personable and greet you by name when you walk in the door. Dr. Mullaney is very talented and really has perfected her craft. Even with a last-minute treatment change, she is unwavering in performing the highest quality treatment available. I am extremely grateful to you all for making my visit pleasant and even fun!