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TMJ - how do u keep your mouth open at the dentist



Junior member
Jun 4, 2006
I've never actually been diagnosed (probably because I haven't been to the dentist for so long) but I'm pretty sure I have TMJ syndrome. I'm almost a doctor (qualify in 2 weeks hopefully!), so we covered it slightly in some of our lectures.

I have a clicky jaw, it pops every time I open my mouth, I have tenderness over the joint and it hurts if I open my mouth wide. I get aching pain around my ears from time to time but have had them checked and they're not infected. I also get fairly bad pain in the joint if I eat something very chewy.

Anyway, I have a dentist phobia but am planning to try to overcome in the next couple of months and try to make an appointment, but I really can't open my mouth all that far (3 finger breadths is uncomfortable) and it hurts if I have to have my mouth open more than a minute or so. What would the dentist do? I don't think I could keep my mouth open long enough for anything to be done because it hurts too much.


Well-known member
Oct 26, 2005
Re: TMJ - how do u keep your mouth open at the den

Hi & :welcome: I actually suffered from severe TMJ for 10 years, and still have to take precautions at dental appointments.

There are several things that you and the dentist can do to make your appointment more comfortable.

1. Tell the dentist about the problems you have with your jaw joint. They will be more apt to offer rest periods during procedures.

2. Ask for a bite block during any dental work. A bite block is a little rubber object that rest between the top and bottom teeth, allowing your mouth to be open, without putting too much strain on the jaw joints.

3. Before any dental procedures start arrange a signal with the dentist, so if the jaw starts to hurt, he can stop and give you a break.

After appointments, if your jaw is achey, apply warm moist compresses to the area. this will help the muscles to relax.

Believe me I stayed away from the dentist for many years with fear that my severe TMJ would return. When I told my dentist he smiled and said if I had any problems, we would take care of the together, and he has :jump: I have had a couple appointments that were rough on my jaw, but with anti inflammatories and moist heat I have been able to keep the TMJ at bay.

Best of luck to you, and keep us posted :)

Good luck on the becoming a doctor too :thumbsup: