TMD Learning Center


Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD) is a condition of the jaw that causes painful symptoms, discomfort, and problems with bite alignment. This often results in headaches, aching jaws, and facial pain. Specializing in TMJ treatment, Dr. Gary B. Dempsey has decades of experience diagnosing and helping patients in Oklahoma City, OK, find relief from the related symptoms. If you have any questions or concerns, give our office a call today to schedule a consultation!

The temporomandibular joint, or the TMJ, is responsible for the movement of the jaw. The TMJ facilitates chewing, eating, and speaking. When the jaw joints do not fit together properly, the jaw and facial muscles can become overexerted, resulting in a wide array of health problems. Living with TMD can be frustrating and uncomfortable. Symptoms may be temporary or can last for extended periods of time. There are multiple factors that can lead to the development of TMD, though the exact cause may be difficult to determine.

There are multiple factors that can lead to the development of TMD, though the exact cause may be difficult to determine.

A few known risk factors include:

  • Bruxism: Grinding teeth or clenching the jaws can put excessive stress on the TMJs.
  • Misaligned Bite: When the upper and lower jaws do not fit together correctly, the surrounding oral and maxillofacial structures can suffer excessive stress.
  • Cartilage Erosion: The cartilage in the TMJ allows for smooth, normal functioning. If the cartilage wears thin, it can cause significant problems.
  • Joint Dislocation: If you notice frequent popping and clicking when opening or closing your mouth, you may be experiencing dislocation, which can strain the surrounding structures and limit the movement of the jaw.
  • Arthritis: Inflammation caused by arthritis may spread to the surrounding structures, such as muscles and ligaments.
  • Hormones: Statistically, TMD affects more women than men. Some researchers suggest that female hormones may be a factor.
  • Injury: Blunt force trauma may contribute to the development of TMD.
  • Genetics: As with many health conditions, some patients may simply be predisposed to certain problems like TMD.

The TMJ holds the lower jaw in its correct position. If there is an issue with the alignment or function of the jaw joints, the surrounding muscles can become strained in an attempt to correct the problem. If this continues to go untreated, the muscles can become fatigued and inflamed.

Common symptoms of TMD include:

  • Jaw pain
  • Popping or clicking of the jaw
  • Facial pain or swelling
  • Earaches
  • Headaches
  • Neck and shoulder pain
  • Back pain
  • Toothaches

Dr. Dempsey will assess your TMJ, and create a custom treatment plan to address your individual needs.

Not only can TMD have a significant negative impact on quality of life, it can also lead to more serious health concerns. Early diagnosis is key in preventing further problems. Dr. Dempsey is a member of the American Academy of Craniofacial Pain, and one of the few dentists in the state of Oklahoma who is trained in this specialized field. He has been assisting patients with TMD since he completed his residency in 1987.

Most patients suffering from TMD will begin with wearing a customized oral appliance to help position the jaws, joints, and facial muscles in proper alignment. However, because no two patients are the same, treatments can vary depending on your specific situation. Dr. Dempsey will assess your TMJs and create a custom treatment plan to address your individual needs.

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What Others Are Saying

“Dr. Dempsey is a fantastic dentist! He does great work and is a very kind person to my family and I. My favorite thing about him is he is ALWAYS doing continuing courses to expand his dentistry (Sleep Apnea, TMD, Orthodontics). I find that someone who has been practicing for so long that wants to continue to learn truly loves what he does, and I find comfort in knowing that he really cares about his patients in that way! I recommend Dr Dempsey to everyone!”


“Went to a few other Dr.’s for my TMJ issue and spent a lot of money with them to get no where. One Dr. thought I had fluid build up in my ear and referred me to an ENT. That ENT said no fluid but sounds like I have TMJ and referred me to Dr. Dempsey. Ever since then my pain issue gets better day by day.”