Just about anyone can suffer from Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) disorder, which causes pain and discomfort in the jaw. But symptoms of TMJ disorder differ from person to person. Some sufferers experience mild symptoms like tenderness or stiffness in the temples and jaw pain after yawning, while others endure severe symptoms like lockjaw and difficulty chewing. If you encounter this type of pain and suspect you may have Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMD), here are seven common symptoms you shouldn’t ignore.
What is TMJ Disorder
The TMJ is a hinge-like joint located in the jaw that connects the lower part of the skull to the top section of the mandible or jaw bone. This small, but powerful joint, is responsible for jaw movement, connecting the jaw to the skull, and it is essential for several functions, including eating, speaking, and yawning. When your TMJ becomes dysfunctional, you will likely experience symptoms such as restricted movement of the jaw, popping and clicking sounds when opening and closing your mouth. Depending on the severity of the disorder, the pain may increase with jaw motions, and some may experience it even at rest.
People sometimes mistakenly call the disorder TMJ; however, the term refers to the joint that causes pain—the temporomandibular joint. When the joint is causing pain or not functioning correctly, the correct abbreviation is TMJD or TMD.
TOp 7 signs you may have a TMJ Disorder
TMJ disorder is often misdiagnosed as something else, but some symptoms of TMJD are unmistakable. For example, clicking and popping in the jaw are very rarely anything other than TMJ disorder. Other symptoms of this condition can be easily be confused with different health issues such as headaches are often misdiagnosed as migraines, earaches are usually diagnosed as coming from something other than a joint near the ear. To properly diagnose the concern, your dentist, who specializes in TMJ, looks at all the symptoms to see if it is a TMJ issue or something else. To understand TMJ disorder symptoms, here are the top 8 common symptoms of patients experiencing TMJ disorder.
You hear popping and clicking sounds from your jaw
If you notice that your jaw pops when you open your mouth, clicks or makes other unusual sounds when you yawn, whenever you open and close your mouth, or while eating chewy foods, these are clear signs that you might have TMJ disorder. Like any other joint in the body, the temporomandibular joint should not make sounds when it’s in use. Noises from this joint indicate that something is not functioning correctly and should be looked at by your dentist, who specializes in treating TMJ.
Significant Jaw Pain, Aching Or Stiffness
TMJ related jaw pain can reach beyond the jaw and can occur in various locations in your body. When the temporomandibular joint isn’t working correctly, most patients experience pain in their jaw, temples, and it can also occur in the shoulders and neck. In some cases, patients experience pain and pressure in the sinus or eye area. Because of the intricate positioning of the TMJ, several areas of the body will experience pain when the jaw joint becomes damaged and is not functioning correctly.
Headaches And Migraines
Do you wake up with a migraine or headache every single morning? This is far from ordinary and usually indicates that there is something more going on. The most common cause of frequent migraines and headaches is due to TMD. Approximately 40% of people diagnosed with TMD will suffer from frequent severe migraines and headaches. If you find yourself experiencing these types of symptoms on an ongoing basis, your Fairview TMJ dentist recommends scheduling an appointment with a dentist who can treat TMJ pain.
Ear Pain, CLogged Ears, or Tinnitus
Although most cases of TMD and TMJ present with pain in the jaw area, it can also affect the ears due to the proximity of where the joint is located. If you experience frequent earaches, clogged ears, or tinnitus without any other symptoms, it can result from TMD and not an ear infection or allergies.
When the joint is extremely inflamed, the muscles in your face work harder to compensate for the disorder. When this happens, the pain can radiate from your jaw to your cheeks, under your eyes, and even your forehead. As if that isn’t bad enough, muscle tension commonly worsens the TMJ pain, leading to more muscle tension and more facial pain.
Shoulder and Neck Pain
It’s common for patients to feel pain throughout the upper body, such as the neck and shoulders. While poor posture contributes to this extra pain, it may also be a reaction to what you are experiencing when you have joint pain.
BROKEN, worn, or Cracked teeth
If you notice that your teeth look worn down or have chips or cracks you don’t remember getting from an injury, it could be a sign that you also have a temporomandibular joint disorder. When there is an imbalance in the bite, your jaw, muscles, and teeth do not work in harmony. Patients with a misaligned bite can also cause patients to clench and grind their teeth, changing the bite even further and leading to additional problems. When visiting your general dentist, your dentist will be able to see if there are any signs of clenching and teeth grinding that need to be addressed.
Causes to TMJ Disorders
To effectively treat TMJ disorder, it’s essential to determine the underlying cause whenever possible. While treating the symptoms can bring temporary relief, it’s only by treating the cause of TMJD that we can develop a lasting solution. An experienced dentist with TMJ patients will help you determine what is causing your TMJ disorder and then work with you to create a customized treatment plan. Here are some of the common reasons for TMJ pain.
- Traumatic Injury or facial trauma to the temporomandibular joint
- Various types of arthritis, such as osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis
- Chronic jaw clenching (bruxism) or Teeth grinding due to stress
- Erosion of the joint
- Lockjaw (trismus)
- Orthodontic treatment
- Poor posture
TMJ Treatment Through Dentistry in Fairview
If you’re experiencing persistent pain, It’s crucial to start your treatment early, or your TMJ disorder could become more severe. The dentist can ease your TMJ pain by recommending various treatment options such as relaxation exercises, braces, physical therapy, or oral appliances such as mouth guards/night guard or oral splints.
While physical therapy is highly effective for relieving TMJ disorders, prescription medications may also provide relief such as:
- Pain relievers
- Muscle Relaxants
Schedule an appointment at Sloan Creek Dental in Fairview
Are you experiencing constant pain or any of the symptoms linked with TMJ disorder? When it comes to treating TMJ, there is no one size fits all treatment plan. Dr. Feng will get to the root of the problem and provide you with treatment options that cater to your specific needs. If you have any questions about pain relief, want to learn more about how Sloan Creek Dental can treat your TMJ in Fairview, or to schedule a consultation at our office, please get in touch with our dental office at 972-468-1440, or leave us a message.