5 Symptoms of a TMJ Disorder

Sep 01, 2023
5 Symptoms of a TMJ Disorder
Your jaw helps you ingest food and form words, and problems with temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder can make both more difficult over your lifetime if not treated properly. Read on to learn the signs.

Your mandible (lower jaw) is the largest bone of the face, and working with your upper jaw (the maxilla) makes most of the important parts of communication and digestion possible. Your temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is a unique kind of ginglymoarthrodial (hinge and sliding) joint that allows for complex articulation for speaking, eating, and other basic mouth functions when the joint, muscles, and ligaments work. Because we use this joint consistently, it is prone to different problems over time, including TMJ disorder.

This disorder can lead to several jaw problems, and to get it treated properly, you should learn what symptoms to look for. Let’s explore these problems by examining TMJ disorders, their causes and signs, and what you can do to prevent and treat them. 

Residents of the Brea, Banning, Corona, and Hemet, California area looking to manage and treat TMJ disorders or other problems with their jaw can find help with Dr. Ayed Hawatmeh and his experienced staff at Bravo Dental Group.

Understanding TMJ disorder

The joints in this bone connect to your head on both sides of your face, below and in front of your ears. These problems are classified as either disorders of the jaw joints, chewing muscles, or headaches related to the condition. The condition often resolves itself in a few months, but chronic or recurring problems with TMJ issues are not uncommon.

These conditions impacting the joints, ligaments, and muscles of your jawbone affect around 12% of the US population and are twice as likely to be found in women than men between the ages of 20-40. 

Causes and symptoms

The hinge and sliding motions associated with proper jaw function work through the cartilage that maintains a smooth motion while being separated by shock-absorbing disks. This condition can result from the erosion of those disks, damage to the cartilage with problems like arthritis, or physical impact on the jaw. Other factors contributing to TMJ problems include arthritis, previous jaw injuries, chronic issues with teeth grinding, and connective tissue diseases.

Here are the signs of TMJ disorder to look out for:

  • Pain: several types of pain can come with TMJ issues, including jaw and facial pain, neck pain, ear pain, and even headaches or migraines
  • Sounds: popping or clicking noises are typical and common but painless signs of this condition
  • Mobility: occasional locking of the joint can lead to issues opening and closing your mouth, as well as stiffness in the jaw
  • Malocclusion: jaw problems can also affect how teeth fit together in your mouth, causing malocclusions or teeth misalignment
  • Tinnitus: if you’re experiencing a ringing in your ears that no one else hears, it means you are struggling with tinnitus, which can also include TMJ issues

Prevention and treatment

TMJ disorders can get treatment through medical treatments and some home tips. Basic steps to reduce issues at home include eating soft foods, avoiding chewing gum (which works the jaw repeatedly), and not clenching or getting your jaw tense. Gentle exercises and stretches can also help, along with hot or cold compresses and rest. Over-the-counter medications can also reduce pain and discomfort.

If the problems are related to teeth grinding, a mouth guard can be used to reduce problems, and degenerative issues can be managed by steroid injections. Surgery is an option, but only in extreme cases.

TMJ can be a mild inconvenience or a problem affecting how you eat and speak. If you’re showing any signs of TMJ, make an appointment with Dr. Hawatmeh and his team at Bravo Dental Center today to get the necessary treatment.