TMJ, or Temporomandibular Joint Disorder, is a relatively common oral condition that often goes unrecognized, primarily because symptoms of TMJ mimic other medical problems, and because many physicians and dentists aren’t familiar with this group of disorders. As practitioners of holistic dentistry, we at Aesthetic Family Dentistry understand the importance of the recognition and treatment of TMJ-related disorders.
Symptoms of TMJ
The most common TMJ symptom is a clicking or popping, or grating sound emanating from the temporamandibular joint, located where the jawbone is hinged to the skull. The clicking is caused by the condyle, a structure within the joint, slipping on and off the dislocated articular disc to which the condyle is normally attached, and the grating sound is produced by bone rubbing on bone.
Headache or head pain is also a common symptom of TMJ, most often felt in the temples, around the eyes, in the back of the head and the neck, or in the shoulders. People affected by TMJ headaches often describe them as feeling like “wearing a hat two sizes too small.” Clenching or grinding of the teeth, called bruxism, another common symptom of TMJ, can result in muscle tension headaches so severe they are confused with migraine headaches. The teeth themselves may become sensitive or painful due to TMJ and/or bruxism, and may be cold sensitive or painful when chewing. The pain will most commonly be diffuse, but may feel to be in a single tooth, not infrequently resulting in unnecessary root canals or extraction of teeth. Ear problems such as ringing, buzzing, or a fullness or stuffy feeling without an identifiable source are often symptoms of TMJ. There may even appear to be a hearing loss in an otherwise normal appearing ear. Patients may feel dizzy or disoriented when suffering from TMJ. Chronic pain associated with TMJ commonly cause sleep disturbances and depression. The aroused brain does not allow the body to reach the deeper stages of sleep, leaving the individual tired or listless in the morning.
Don’t let TMJ symptoms interfere with your life and health. Our dentists are here to help. Call or email us today to schedule a consultation!