Connecting your jaw to your skull, your temporomandibular joint (TMJ) plays a huge role in your everyday life. After all, eating, speaking, laughing, smiling, yawning, and more all require the help of this joint. So, when it is ailing, you are sure to feel it.
Here are a few common signs and symptoms that you may have TMJ disorder.
Opening and closing the jaw should not result in clicking sounds. However, it is one of the most commonly reported symptoms by those who suffer from TMJ disorder. Making your dentist aware of these sounds is important. You may not require treatment right away but it is something your dentist can monitor just in case.
Pain Around the Jaw
TMJ disorder can cause pain— and sometimes it is difficult to know where it is coming from. These pains and aches can be felt in many different areas, such as:
Headaches are also very common.
TMJ pain can often show up anytime the jaw is moved. It is not uncommon for patients with bruxism to wake up in the morning with severe jaw pain.
A Locking Jaw
Sometimes the temporomandibular joint can move out of place for one reason or another. When this happens, opening the mouth wide can be tough to do. It may even lead to the jaw locking in place.
If this happens, you may need to seek professional help. But, once you are able to close it, the joint will pop back in place.
Sore and Tired Facial Muscles
Your jaw, teeth, and facial muscles all work together. When your TMJ is not functioning properly, this can cause your muscles to have to put in extra work.
Many patients who suffer from TMJ disorder complain that their face hurts and the facial muscles feel tired. Although rare, swelling in the face is sometimes also reported.
All of this usually only happens on one side —- the side where the joint is not functioning properly.
Being able to chew is necessary, but those with TMJ disorder often find it to be a struggle. This is especially true when eating foods that are hard, crunchy, or chewy.
This pain can appear in the ear or the jaw and may even be too painful to keep eating. Your muscles will try to overwork to help out the jaw, but this only leads to further discomfort.
If you are experiencing pain like this, it is best to give your jaw a rest until you can seek the help of your dentist.
Other Signs of TMJ Disorder
There are some symptoms of TMJ disorder that are not as widely reported by patients. However, this is often because they are non-specific symptoms and often result in seeking medical treatment rather than dental treatment.
These symptoms include feeling lightheaded or dizzy, ringing in the ears, and hearing difficulties.
Unfortunately, without getting to the root cause — addressing issues with the TMJ — these symptoms are only being masked.
TMJ Treatment in San Francisco
The treatment of TMJ disorder is a specialty of Dr. Chui and the team at San Francisco Dental Wellness. They offer several different options to help patients find relief, including TENS, MLS laser therapy, and night guards. Dr. Chui is also the clinical director at the San Francisco VA Medical Center and provides effective treatment to veterans suffering from complex TMJ disorders.
Learn more about our advanced treatments for TMJ disorder.