7 Signs You Have TMJ and How a Dentist Can Help

April 29, 2020

Your temporomandibular joint gives you the ability to open and close your mouth. It’s necessary for chewing and talking. Unfortunately, these tasks stress this joint, which is why some people develop a condition known as temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ).

Often referred to as TMJ or TMD, temporomandibular joint disorder is a condition that can cause pain and affect your ability to chew. Fortunately, Vanyo Dental, serving Durham, NC and the nearby region, may assist but only if you recognize the symptoms.

Signs You Have TMJ

If you have TMJ, you may develop certain symptoms ranging from pain to ringing in your ears. Some conditions increase your likelihood of developing this problem.

1. Noises When You Chew or Open Your Mouth

You may notice a popping, clicking, or grinding noise coming from your jaw, especially when you chew or open your mouth too wide. These sounds arise as a result of the joint coming in and out of position.

2. Pain

Pain is a fairly common symptom of TMJ. You may have pain when you wake up or pain or open your mouth too wide. Additionally, the pain in your jaw could occur when you’re chewing. Individuals with TMJ may also experience tenderness or swelling in this region.

The pain, however, isn’t always localized to your jaw joint. The pain can extend beyond your jaw to other parts of your face. In fact, you may develop pain that extends to your ears. For some patients, TMJ causes recurring earaches.

Headaches are a common occurrence for those with TMJ as well.

3. Trouble Opening Your Mouth

When you have TMJ, you may struggle to open and close your mouth normally. In some cases, your jaw may lock into position. As the condition continues and worsens, the locking of your jaw may become more frequent and prominent.

4. Trouble Chewing

Since your temporomandibular joints are necessary for you to eat, you may struggle to chew as usual if you have TMJ.

5. Arthritis

Arthritis isn’t a sign of TMJ. However, it increases your risk for developing TMJ, so those with arthritis should be particularly wary of TMJ.

6. Tinnitus

Tinnitus is a term that describes hearing noises that aren’t from an external source. You may hear buzzing, ringing, clicking, hissing, roaring, or humming if you have it. Tinnitus can be found in people with TMJ, so keep your ears peeled.

7. Previous Jaw Injury

If you have symptoms of TMJ and sustained an injury to your jaw in the past, you’re more likely to have TMJ.

Treatment for TMJ

During the first portion of your appointment, you’ll need to fill out a medical history form. Some of the questions you can expect include:

  • Health conditions
  • Medications currently taken
  • Jaw injuries
  • Habits like tooth clenching and grinding

After filling out your medical history report, a dental practitioner will evaluate your teeth for signs of grinding and clenching. Your dentist will ask you to open and close your mouth. Your dentist will listen for noises and feel your jaw when it’s in motion. The practitioner will assess your range of motion and identify areas where you have discomfort or pain.

Additionally, a dental practitioner may recommend an X-ray of your jaw and teeth.

Once you have a diagnosis, the first course of action is often a dental splint and recommendations for at-home measures. If this isn’t enough, a dental practitioner may resort to another approach in the future, such as referring you for surgery.

TMJ can interfere with your ability to chew, and the pain can put a damper on your usual activities. However, treatment may reduce or stop your symptoms and prevent them from progressing.

Schedule an appointment with Vanyo Dental today to stop your TMJ pain.