TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint disorders or dysfunction, which means the place where your upper and lower jaw connects isn’t working as it should. This leads to a variety of unpleasant symptoms, ones that people may attribute to another suspected cause before finding out that TMJ is the culprit. Your dentist can help determine if you have TMJ, but here are the top signs to look out for with the disorder.
Headaches are a common symptom of TMJ and could range from mild to migraine-like. Headaches can happen because of the way your jaw works when chewing—there may be pressure on places where there shouldn’t be pressure, and often the neck and jaw muscles tend to be sore and carry tension, which can result in headaches as well. If you’re a common sufferer of headaches, you may want to check with your dentist to see if TMJ could be the cause.
Many people with TMJ experience odd sounds when they chew or open and close their mouths, as this is the most common symptom of the disorder. These noises could range from a clicking or ticking noise to a popping sound to even a grinding noise. These sounds are often annoying to people who experience them and they may be persistent or worsen over time. These clicking and popping noises may be painful when they happen or may be loud enough for others to hear. This noise can happen as the result of the joint being displaced and is usually uncomfortable regardless of whether or not any pain is experienced.
For some people, TMJ is merely uncomfortable. For others, however, it can be very painful. Your jaw muscles are very powerful, and when your joints in your jaw aren’t working correctly, this can create immense pressure and tension which could lead to painful headaches, sore muscles, and even pain when chewing or speaking. Some people may only experience pain when opening their mouths wide, such as when yawning, others may experience pain anytime they open their mouth, which can be very uncomfortable.
Ear or Facial Discomfort
People with TMJ will often experience an odd feeling their ears and have facial pain from the tense muscles and locking jaw. You may also experience pain in your ear or around the ear, or even a popping sound in your ear. Facial discomfort from TMJ could range from having sore neck or jaw muscles to having sensitive temples and more. Everyone is different and so not everyone will necessarily experience the same TMJ symptoms.
If you suspect you have TMJ or are experiencing any of these symptoms, visit your dentist. Although traditional doctors are appropriate as well, your dentist is trained specially in oral health care and can often diagnose TMJ before your primary care doctor would consider it as the cause. There is treatment for TMJ, so seek help for your symptoms!
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