Temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD) are a group of condition affecting your jaw joint and related structures. While TMJ pain felt in front of your ear is the most common signs and symptom of TMJ disorders (TMD), pain is not the only TMJ disorder symptom. TMD also may cause pain in other parts of your body mostly in the head and neck region. A healthy temporomandibular joint is crucial for basic daily activities such as eating, drinking, swallowing, and talking.
On the other hand, pain on the TMJ might be caused by none TMJ problem. Sinus infection, ear infection, teeth and gum problems, and several neurological conditions may be mistaken as primary TMJ pain. Temporomandibular joint disorders are attributed to many causes. One or more than one problem may be causing your TMD. However, TMD diagnosis might be difficult but, it’s also crucial for achieving successful treatment and cure to your TMJ disorder.
Here are the 12 most common symptoms of TMJ disorders:
1. Jaw Pain
TMJ pain is the most common symptom of TMD that drives patients to seek help. TMJ pain may be felt in one or both of your temporomandibular joints.
TMD pain may radiates to the teeth and present as a toothache. Many times, TMD pain when referred to teeth end up with unnecessary dental procedures. This is especially true when you go to a none TMJ specialist for TMD treatment.
3. Broken and Flat Teeth
Patients with TMJ disorders may show signs of worn, chipped, or broken teeth. They may also feel pain in the teeth and gums.
4. Bite changes
One of the signs and symptoms of chronic TMJ disorder is changes in the bite. The teeth feels as they are not properly aligned, and the bite is uncomfortable.
5. Jaw Clicking (Popping) and grating
TMJ sounds such as jaw clicking and grating among the most common symptoms of TMJ disorders. A healthy temporomandibular joint is quite and should not produce these sounds during normal jaw activity. Clicking sound is usually caused by TMJ disc displacement while, grating sound is more likely associated with TMJ arthritis.
6. Pain in the Jaw and face muscles
Pain in the masseter and temporalis muscles is very common in patients with TMJ disorders. Muscle pain can be spontaneous or when you move your jaw or during palpating these muscles. Muscle pain with normal jaw activity or without activity is a sign of active trigger points. Trigger points injections using special local anesthesia will give instant TMJ muscle pain relief to patients with active trigger points.
7. TMJ Headache
Headache in the temple area is a common TMJ disorders symptom. This is especial true in patients who clinch their teeth. Morning headache in the temple area is an indicator of the night-time bruxism.
8. Ear Pain
TMJ pain is commonly felt as earache. Therefore, many TMD patients visit ENT specialists first who will send back to their dentists for TMJ evaluation.
9. Ear Fullness
Ear fullness is one of the common symptoms of ear infection. However, ear fullness is one of the common symptoms of TMJ disorders too. You should consult with your ENT specialist first who will tell you if you have ear infection or you don’t. If he found that you don’t have ear infection, big chance your feeling of ear fullness is TMD.
This problem is very annoying, tinnitus is when you feel ringing sound in your ears. Tinnitus has many causes, however, TMJ disorders is one of them.
11. Balance Problems
TMD can cause dizziness, and vertigo similar to Meniere’s disease. Loosing balance can be serious because it may cause falls and major injuries specially in older people.
12. Neck and Shoulder Pain
There is a neurological connection between the nerves connected to the TMJ and the neck and shoulder nerves. Pain referral between these organs is common. This pain referral pattern is well understood by the Orofacial pain and TMJ specialists.