UIC College of Dentistry Facial & Oral Pain, TMJ Therapy

Experts in Treatments for Facial & Oral Pain (TMJ/TMD, Jaw Pain, Headaches, etc.)


Are you experiencing un-explained pain in your face, jaw or neck?

We specialize in treating oral pain conditions, including evidence-based methods of prevention, diagnosis and treatment of facial pain disorders. We offer both non-intrusive and surgical treatments for many types of conditions. 

The oral and facial pain specialists at UIC in Chicago are experts in treating oral and facial pain conditions, including evidence-based methods of prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of oral facial pain disorders. If you have conditions  such as chronic headaches, jaw disorders, breathing issues or habits such as teeth grinding, you could be at risk for facial pain. Sometimes the causes of facial pains are associated with underlying diseases, head and neck cancers, oral legions or other oral conditions. Our oral medicine and oral facial pain specialists work closely with primary physicians and other dentists to plan the most effective course of treatment for you.

If you are experiencing symptoms such as head, face, mouth, neck pain, oral legions, facial spasticity, temporomandibular disorder (TMD, jaw pain), sleep disorders related to breathing problems or similar concerns, our oral facial pain specialists can help.

facial-pain01.jpgFacial pain conditions we treat include:

  • Temporomandibular disorders (TMJ joint pain, jaw pain, arthritis of TMJ joints )
  • Masticatory musculoskeletal pain (muscle pain )
  • TMJ internal derangements ( disc problems inside the jaw joints like clicking, popping, locking of TMJ joints)
  • Neurovascular pain (migraine, tension type headaches, etc.)
  • Neuropathic pain ( nerve pain issues like Neuralgias or more constant pain inside the mouth)
  • Burning mouth syndrome



Temporomandibular, Joint Disorders (TMD / TMJ) 

Do you have severe jaw pain?

mini-infographic-tmj2.jpgDiagnosing and treating temporomandibular disorders (TMD) / temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders can be difficult. We offer specialized expertise in this area of oral facial pain management. If you have symptoms such as pain in the jaw, ear or neck, headaches, muscle soreness, or locking of the jaw joint making it difficult to open or close your mouth – we can help.

Signs and symptoms

  • Pain in your cheek, jaw, or temple
  • Headaches,  ear pain, or neck pain
  • Jaw locking, clicking or popping
  • Soreness in muscles upon waking



Here's what you need to know about TMD / TMJ - the 'jaw-dropping' facts, if you will.


What are Temporomandibular Joint Disorders (TMD / TMJ)?

Millions of American adults suffer from chronic facial pain, such as jaw pain, headaches or earaches. The source of these aches and pains may be related to one or both of the temporomandibular (TM) joints. Located on each side of the head, these joints work together, with a complex system of muscles, ligaments, discs and bones, to make different movements for chewing and speaking.

TMDs are a group of jaw pain and dysfunction conditions involving these areas - the masticatory muscles, the temporomandibular joints (TMJ) and associated structures.  Often, people will say they "have TMJ." TMJ is actually the name of the joint associated to the disorder.


What can cause TMDs?

Although the exact cause of TMD remains unclear, medical professionals believe that the symptoms stem from problems with the muscles of the jaw,  the joints or even stress:

Acute trauma: Direct or indirect trauma to the jaw (e.g. fractures or contusions from motor vehicle accidents, whiplash injuries, sports injuries or prolonged wide opening of the  mouth during dental appointments).

Chronic micro trauma: This includes chronic repetitive low-grade injuries to the jaw joint complex. Common examples include grinding or clenching the teeth during the day and/or at night, diet consisting of hard, tough, chewy foods, chronic gum chewing.

Stress: Stress is known to be very strongly associated with TMDs. Patients with TMD / TMJ are found to have a much higher incidence of stress and anxiety when compared to those without TMD, which may contribute to the jaw problem or may be caused by it.


What are the signs and symptoms of TMD / TMJ? 

The exact cause of your TMD may be difficult to determine, but there are clear signs to look for: 

  • Pain in the cheek areas, around the jawline, and/or in the temple region. Those pains may be increased by chewing hard or tough foods and other oral activities.
  • Clicking or popping sounds or crunchy sounds in the jaw joints (in front of your ears) when   opening your mouth
  • Soreness in jaw muscles on waking up in the morning
  • Locking of the jaw joint, making it difficult to open or close your mouth
  • Headaches, ear pain, or neck pain may be associated with TMD
  • Sometimes the bite may feel different despite not having had dental treatment.


How do we treat TMDs at UIC?

To help you determine the causes, and the best course of treatment, we will conduct an examination of your head and neck, and perform an intraoral exam. We also use diagnostic imaging techniques such as Panoramic (Pano), CT scan, or MRI as needed.

We offer both non-surgical and surgical treatments for TMD / TMJ management.

Nonsurgical Treatment: After comprehensive history taking and examination, treatment plans are tailored to individual needs and symptoms. The emphasis is on conservative treatment approaches. Oral appliances such as splints / night guards can be made by the dentist, if grinding at nighttime is suspected to play a role in the muscle or joint pain problem. These can relax painful muscles and reduce joint soreness. We may also prescribe appropriate medications for pain, inflammation, muscle relaxation, etc. Referral for professional Physical therapy is often part of the treatment plan, including: Occupational therapy, Psychotherapy, Neurologists, Rheumatologists, Chronic Pain Specialists, etc. may be referred, depending on the patients’ symptoms.


Surgical Treatment: Surgery is rarely needed for the overwhelming majority of TMD patients. However, if nonsurgical management provides inadequate relief, and if the jaw joint has a clear mechanical or pathological process requiring surgical intervention (e.g. tumor, disk problems, rapid progressive degeneration of the jaw joint), surgery may be considered.


What can I do at home to help with TMD symptoms?

There are several things you can do at home to help alleviate TMD symptoms, in addition to seeking medical treatment. We recommend the following home care instructions, including:

  • Avoidance of hard foods, eating softer foods, avoiding any food that makes your jaw hurt, grind or crunch more. chewing gum, yawning, and hobbies like singing, playing musical instruments, should also be minimized during the period of jaw pain. Avoid daytime jaw clenching.
  • Practice keeping teeth apart by placing the tongue on the roof of your mouth behind your upper front teeth with your teeth slightly separated.
  • Apply cold and hot packs for improving circulation and reducing inflammation in the area.
  • Exercises: easy, simple to learn exercises will be demonstrated to the patient in the clinic, to relax the jaw.
  • Stress reduction techniques like Yoga, exercise regimen, and deep breathing exercises may be helpful. Referral to appropriate therapists may be recommended.



Facial & Oral Pain, TMJ Specialists at UIC


Jasjot Sahni, DDS

Jasjot Sahni, DDS

Visiting Clinical Assistant Professor
Department of Oral Medicine and Diagnostic Sciences

Dr. Sahni completed her residency program in Orofacial Pain and Oral Medicine from the University of Southern California. She is specialized to provide diagnosis and treatment related to TMJ disorders, facial pain and headaches, neuralgias, bruxism, sleep disordered breathing, oral mucosal lesions and oral cancer detection. Her treatment methodology utilizes non-surgical and minimally invasive techniques.


  • TMJ disorders, facial pain and headaches, neuralgias, bruxism
  • Sleep disordered breathing
  • Oral mucosal lesions and oral cancer detection
  • Non-surgical and minimally invasive techniques
Michael Han DDS

Michael Han DDS

Assistant Professor
Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery

Board Certified Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon

Dr. Michael Han received his DDS degree at University of California at Los Angeles, and completed residency training in oral and maxillofacial surgery at the University of Washington, where he was exposed to a high volume of orthognathic surgery and developed a keen interest in the treatment of dentofacial deformities and related obstructive sleep apnea. Following residency, Dr. Han completed an oral and maxillofacial surgery fellowship at Dalhousie University with a focus on orthognathic surgery, temporomandibular joint surgery and arthroscopy. There, he was trained in surgical planning and techniques developed by Drs. Jean Delaire and David Precious, both pioneers in the field orthognathic surgery. 


  • Surgical correction of jaw deformities and malocclusion
  • TMJ surgery

Schedule a consultation

UIC College of Dentistry provides expert, affordable treatment options to help you manage facial and oral pain.

Schedule a private consultation for an evaluation and learn more about the treatment options and costs. 

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Oral Medicine & Facial Pain clinic contact and location

Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery clinic contact and location



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