Do I Have TMJ? Common Signs & Symptoms
Temporomandibular joint disease, or TMJ, is a condition that affects the joint that connects the jaw to the skull. It’s a complex condition often caused by misaligned teeth that worsens over time.
TMJ is complicated to diagnose because the symptoms are similar to other conditions, such as ear infections and dental problems. Issues like these make it difficult for professionals to identify the specific cause of a person’s symptoms.
Additionally, the symptoms of TMJ vary widely from person to person – making the best course of treatment hard to identify. It doesn’t help that there is no specific test to diagnose TMJ, so medical and dental professionals must rely on a combination of medical history, physical examinations, and imaging tests to make a diagnosis.
The good news is that once properly diagnosed, TMJ does respond well to treatment options. If you suspect you have TMJ, here are some signs and symptoms you should not ignore.
Common Signs of TMJ
As previously mentioned, TMJ is a disorder that affects the jaw joint and the muscles that control jaw movement. Some early common signs and symptoms of TMJ disorders include:
- Pain and/or tenderness in the ear, face, neck, or shoulders
- Difficulty chewing or biting
- Clicking, popping, or grinding sounds when moving the jaw
- Difficulty opening or closing the mouth
- A dull ache around the jaw muscles
- Pain in the joint that worsens throughout the day
Other symptoms often include headaches, dizziness, earaches, and difficulty swallowing. You may also notice changes in the way your upper and lower teeth align, or your jaw may lock in an open or shut position.
Causes of TMJ
The exact cause of TMJ is not well understood, but it is thought to be related to a combination of factors, including:
- Trauma or injury to the jaw or face
- Grinding or clenching of the teeth
- Joint disorders (like arthritis)
- Misalignment of the teeth or jaw
- Stress and tension
- Genetics or hereditary factors
- Misaligned bite
- Poor posture
- Improper jaw positioning during activities such as eating or speaking
Treating TMJ Disorders at Queen Crowns Dental
Once a proper diagnosis of TMJ is made, and the cause is identified, then there are a variety of ways to treat the disorder.
In less severe cases, TMJ can be treated at home by applying ice to the jaw, switching to soft foods, massaging facial muscles, resting the jaw, and taking anti-inflammatory medications. In more advanced cases, professional treatment is advised to evaluate the condition and provide additional treatments like a bite splint, mouthguard, or steroid injections. These options promote healing while keeping the jaw in alignment.
If the above treatments fail to work, surgical intervention is an option. Surgery may even be required to remove damaged tissue and restructure the joint.
At Queens Crown Dental, we carefully evaluate your symptoms to diagnose TMJ. If TMJ is determined, we help plan the best course of treatment based on your unique situation. Our goal is to relieve your symptoms and provide a permanent solution to the TMJ disorder. For more information and to schedule an appointment, contact us at 808-526-2800.