Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders affect the two complex joints that are located on either side of your head close to your ears. These powerful joints connect your jaw to your skull and allow you to speak, chew, and yawn.
However, these joints can also cause problems for those who have misaligned teeth, an improper bite, or arthritis. TMJ disorders can cause many symptoms, including clicking or popping noises, inability to open the mouth all the way, and jaw pain.
But what are some other, more unexpected symptoms of TMJ you may not have heard of?
Ear aches or infections can happen as the result of TMJ issues . Since the temporomandibular joints are so close to the ears, ear problems may be misdiagnosed when really the TMJ is the culprit.
People who have ear problems as the result of TMJ may have a feeling of fullness in their ear or tinnitus (ringing of the ears). While experts aren’t sure why this happens, your dentist can help diagnose any TMJ problems, especially if you’ve received treatment for ear issues that hasn’t helped.
Your vision in one or both eyes may be affected as the result of TMJ inflammation or malfunction . But why does this happen?
The temporomandibular joints are very close to a major nerve called the trigeminal nerve, which is also linked to your vision in addition to your jaw and brain. If these joints are inflamed, they may affect your vision.
Problems may include blurry vision, “tired” eyes, a feeling of pressure behind the eyes, or even light sensitivity or watery eyes.
Neck or Shoulder Pain
TMJ problems often lead to muscle tension in the jaw, which can cause pain and tension to radiate outward to affect your neck and even your shoulders and upper back .
In addition, to compensate for jaw pain as the result of TMJ, you may unconsciously hold your head or neck in an unnatural position to help reduce your discomfort. Poor posture is a symptom of TMJ discomfort, but can also be a cause as well!
Since TMJ disorders can affect the ears, some people may experience dizziness. The muscles and connective tissue that support the jaw can experience inflammation as a result of a problem with the TMJ, and this, in turn, can affect the inner ear.
The inner ear helps manage your sense of balance, so a problem with your inner ear as the result of TMJ inflammation could lead to vertigo as a symptom of TMJ disorders .
Numbness or Tingling
Since the TMJ is so close to the trigeminal nerve, any inflammation around these joints could possibly lead to numbness or tingling in your arms, legs, or fingers as the result of a pinched trigeminal nerve. You may also experience weakness or an aching feeling in these areas .
While this isn’t a common symptom, it’s something to consider if you’re having other TMJ symptoms in addition to symptoms of a pinched nerve.
Are You Experiencing Any of These Symptoms?
TMJ disorders are treatable. If you’re experiencing any of these or the more common symptoms of a problem with your temporomandibular joints, don’t hesitate to seek help from your experienced dentist!