In my years serving as LA’s premiere TMJ specialist, I have never ever found one case to be exactly like another. There are different nuances to each case, and I treat every patient as the individual they are.
That being said, TMJ syndrome is a common condition. Many people may be experiencing symptoms, but may not know that it is related to TMJ until the condition worsens. Knowing the symptoms of TMJ syndrome can help you know when it’s time to visit a professional.
In this article, we’ll explore 6 of the most common symptoms of TMJ syndrome.
There are many different symptoms of TMJ syndrome, all of which can occur at varying degrees. How do you know that the symptoms you’re experiencing are TMJ, and not something else?
If you think you might have TMJ Disorder, check for these 6 common symptoms:
Pain in the Jaw, Face, Neck and Back
One of the main symptoms of TMJ syndrome is pain or soreness. While the pain will often start in the face or jaw area, it can spread throughout the body. This pain is usually exacerbated by jaw movement, such as chewing, talking, or opening your mouth wide.
Because of how closely intertwined every ligament, joint, muscle, and bone in the face and head are, patients often have a chief complaint of pain, soreness, and tenderness throughout the entire face, including the forehead, cheeks, jaw, and chin.
One of the most surprising TMJ symptoms is pain in the neck and the back. While it typically isn’t a standalone symptom, when experienced with others on this list, neck pain and stiffness, tense shoulders complete with pain, and even lower back pain could all be symptoms of TMJ Disorder.
Because of the longevity of this pain, over-the-counter pain medication is a short-term and ultimately ineffective fix.
Teeth Grinding (Bruxism)
The most common TMJ Disorder symptom is the grinding and clenching of teeth, also known as Bruxism.
Because it is usually an unconscious movement, patients do not always recognize the fact that they are grinding and clenching, so they cannot prevent it. The grinding and clenching of teeth is very detrimental to the teeth, as well as the facial muscles and joints, oftentimes causing excessive pain and pressure.
Locking and Popping of the Jaw Joint
Pain, locking, and popping in the jaw is one of the number one symptoms of TMJ. Although there is the chance that it could be a different ailment such as lockjaw, if it’s accompanied with one or all of the other symptoms and signs on this list, it is likely TMJ Disorder.
When you speak or eat with TMJ syndrome, you may experience noise coming from your jaw. These noises can range anywhere from a slight clicking, to a loud popping, to a constant grinding.
Another common symptom of TMJ disorder is that your mouth might feel “stuck” in a specific position. It might be hard to open or close your mouth. Because of the limited jaw opening and odd jaw movements, it might also feel like your teeth do not fit together properly.
If your jaw is popping and your face feels tired, you should make an appointment with a TMJ specialist as soon as possible.
Ringing in the Ears (Tinnitus)
Ringing in the ears is a major factor in TMJ diagnosis. Because the jaw and the ear are so connected, TMJ disorder can mess up the function and inner balance of your ear.
Prior to being treated for TMJ Disorder, patients often report ringing in their ears accompanied by pain or dizziness. The discomfort can range from a dull, unpleasant pressure to an incredibly sharp, excruciating pain. The ringing is often a very faint sound or hissing that patients hear in their ears continuously.
If this is one of your symptoms, come in as soon as possible for a consultation, because this can actually lead to permanent hearing loss.
In most cases, ringing in the ears can be gone for good once the TMJ joint is stabilized.
Headaches and Migraines
Headaches and migraines are a common symptom of TMJ Disorder, especially when they are frequent and long-lasting. TMD induced headaches are often long lasting, causing interference in daily routine and sleep.
Because these headaches are a result of a much deeper cause, over-the-counter headache medication does not usually work as a source of relief.
Newfound eye pain and vision problems are a big indicator of TMD that many people overlook. Although it can be a surprising symptom, the face is incredibly interconnected. Patients are often startled by random bouts of blurry vision, bloodshot eyes, pressure behind the eyes, burning, and sensitivity to light.
What Is TMJ Syndrome?
Your temporomandibular joint is located at the top of your jaw, just below your skull. This joint helps your jaw move to talk and chew your food. If the joint experiences an injury or has been damaged, TMJ syndrome can develop.
When someone has TMJ syndrome, they are experiencing inflammation of the specific joint and can result in issues with the nerves and muscles. This inflamed joint often leads to intense pain, especially when chewing or talking.
TMJ Disorder is a condition that is generally seen in patients between the age of 18 and 45. Many patients have gone to ENTs, acupuncturists, chiropractors, various doctors, and even emergency rooms to relieve them of pain, oftentimes to no avail.
Potential Causes of TMJ Syndrome
The main causes of TMJ syndrome are still being researched. However, TMJ syndrome is characterized by muscle tightness and abnormality. It is believed that changes in muscle structure, trauma, high levels of stress, braces, and poor posture could affect the development of TMJ and its symptoms.
If you have experienced a trauma to your jaw region, it may lead to TMJ symptoms. Trauma such as a facial impact, a car accident, nail-biting, or even arthritis, could lead to TMJ Disorder. As a result of even day-to-day trauma, no matter how slight, a lot of Americans are experiencing these life-altering symptoms with no reprieve.
Visit a TMJ Specialist in Los Angeles
TMJ syndrome symptoms can be painful and uncomfortable. Medical treatment options may be necessary to help provide relief and management of symptoms. A professional TMJ specialist will be able to determine which treatment methods are best for you and your needs.
During the initial consultation, I strive to come up with an honest diagnosis to the best of my medical abilities every time. The time I spend during the consultation is very precious because this is the diving board into treatment; and I take this responsibility very seriously.
Once we have that area covered, we will then go over treatment options to determine the absolute best TMJ treatment for your needs.
At the Center for Cosmetic, Implant & Neuromuscular Dentistry, we take pride in helping our clients manage a wide variety of different symptoms associated with TMJ syndrome. If you are experiencing symptoms that either you yourself or your doctor suspect might be TMJ related, then do not hesitate to take action now!