TMJ Treatment in Winston-Salem

I’m currently having pain in my jaw area and I think it may be related to my TMJ. What can I do? Person with Jaw Pain in Winston Salem

Are you having a TMJ-related dental emergency? We are passionate about helping. Please don’t hesitate to call (336) 760-1277 to schedule an appointment today.

We will see emergency patients who are new to our office. We understand how uncomfortable and life-altering TMJ pain can be. Dr. Benton and Dr. Nelson are committed to helping all patients in the Winston-Salem and Piedmont Triad area. We will see all emergencies, even if you are not patients of record at our office. 

We are happy to schedule a same-day emergency TMJ evaluations. We will do our best to rearrange our schedule so you can be seen on the same day that you call.

What are some of the signs and symptoms of Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) and Temporomandibular Disorder (TMD) issues?

  • Clicking or popping when opening and closing your mouth
  • Persistent pain around the ear
  • Limited mouth opening, especially in the morning
  • Headaches around your temple area
  • Waking up with a headache that lessons throughout the day
  • Pain and soreness in the muscles of your cheeks
  • Temporary lockjaw
  • Soreness in teeth
  • Wear and chipping of teeth

What does Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) and Temporomandibular Disorder (TMD) mean exactly?Therapy Dog in Winston Salem Dental Office

Temporomandibular joint pain (TMJ pain) and temporomandibular disorder (TMD) are the most common terms to describe jaw and muscle pain. 


The TMJ is the actual joint that connects your skull (temporal bone) to your lower jawbone (mandible). You have two TMJs on either side of your head located just in front of your ear canal. If you place your fingers next to your ear and open and close your jaw you can feel the joint rotating and occasionally popping. 


TMD stands for Temporomandibular Disorder. This term encompasses all of the possible issues that can arise with the structures of these joints. These issues fall into three main categories: bone disorders, disc disorders, and muscle disorders. You may have a combination of issues with multiple parts at the same time. 

What types of Temporomandibular Disorders (TMD) could I have?

Bone-Related TMD

The temporal bone (the socket part) and the mandible (the ball part) can develop degenerative diseases that are very similar to other joints in the body such as the knee.

  • Osteoarthritis: This is a degenerative condition caused by use and wear over time. The cartilage which separates the two bones wears away and causes the bones to rub together. This creates inflammation, pain, damage to the bones, and loss of motion.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis: The outcomes are similar to osteoarthritis, but instead of wear causing the damage, the joint is attacked by your own body's immune system.
  • Post-traumatic osteoarthritis: This can happen rapidly or slowly following a traumatic injury to the lower jaw.

Disc-Related TMD

A normal TMJ joint has a disc of cartilage that separates the two bones of the joint and allows the bones to slide easily against each other. However, the disc can become dislodged, inflamed, or stuck in place.

  • Signs and symptoms of disc-related issues include popping, clicking, lockjaw, and pain when opening and closing your jaw.

Muscle-Related TMD

Each side of your face has 4 main muscles that work together to open and close your jaw. They are the temporalis, masseter, lateral pterygoid and medial pterygoid.

  • These muscles can become inflamed, injured, or damaged. 
  • Muscle pain is often mistaken for pain in the TMJ itself. It is important to properly diagnose the issue to determine the proper treatment.
  • If you have muscle inflammation or damage, opening or closing your mouth can become difficult or painful.
  • Muscle issues can also be mistaken for headaches, especially if the headaches are most severe in the mornings.

Winston Salem Dental Office EntrywayHow do I know if I have TMJ issues or TMD?

Schedule a consultation for an evaluation. You should call to schedule a consultation with Drs. Benton and Nelson at our Winston-Salem office. Since there is a wide range of issues that can occur around the jaw joint area, it is important to have a skilled dentist evaluate you.

We’re here to listen. Our doctors will listen to your concerns and take a detailed history of your symptoms, pain, or discomfort.

Thorough examination. A very thorough clinical exam will be conducted to examine the bones, muscles, disc, and joint. It is critical to determine what structures are causing your issues because they will dictate the treatment that is most likely to be successful.

What kind of treatment options are available?

Occlusal splint (night guard)

The most common treatment to begin with is an occlusal splint. This is a special type of night guard that you wear while sleeping. There are many different types and styles of splints that are designed for different causes of your pain. Once your doctor determines the appropriate type of splint for your issue, then they will take molds of your teeth so our local Winston-Salem dental lab can fabricate a custom splint.

Physical therapy

Many times physical therapy can help alleviate symptoms of TMD. Physical therapy can include stretching, exercise, and massages for the joint.

Occlusal Equilibration (Bite Adjustment)

Sometimes TMD symptoms are exacerbated by your teeth not fitting together appropriately. The doctor can make tiny, precise adjustments to your bite, known as an occlusal equilibration, which can help alleviate symptoms. 

Palliative Care (Preventive or Protective Care)

The doctor will discuss your history of symptoms and determine the best palliative or preventive care regimen for you. This can include stretching exercises, prescription medications (pain relievers, anti-inflammatory, or muscle relaxing medications), and avoidance of certain jaw movements. 

How much does an occlusal guard (night guard) cost?*

A common recommended treatment for TMD is an occlusal guard.  This custom-made appliance will position the jaws favorably overnight to prevent TMJ pain, grinding, and tooth shifting.  The fee for an occlusal guard (also known as a night guard) at our office is $554.

Can I afford TMJ therapy?

Our office accepts and files all dental insurance policies. Our office provides excellent care at an affordable price. We accept and file all dental insurance policies and will fight on your behalf so that you receive the maximum benefit.

Financial plans are available. We offer financing plans that allow you to fit your needs into your budget.

Discounts for patients without dental insurance (cash pay). We also offer discounts to patients without dental insurance or for those who prefer to pay in cash. 


*Fees are quoted from our office's January 2021 fee schedule and are subject to change.  Changes in fees are typically nominal (less than a 3% adjustment).