Do you suffer from jaw pain? Do you often hear clicking or popping noises when you move your jaw? These are symptoms of temporomandibular joint disease (TMD/TMJ disorder) that can cause parts of the jaw to malfunction. It can happen from misalignment of the jaw (malocclusion), a structural jaw deformity, or a straining of the muscles or tendons controlling movement in the jaw.
If this is the case for you, we recommend checking with our doctor to find out how severe the problem is. If you wait to see a doctor, your symptoms may worsen as the condition often continues to deteriorate. It can create other problems and even compromise your ability to talk and chew. The longer you wait, the more invasive and more costly treatment could end up being.
Ignoring Jaw Problems
Ignoring the problem invites TMJ complications, particularly if you have arthritis, a connective tissue disease, or a prior injury to the jaw. These medical conditions can cause you to be at greater risk of the following:
- Arthritis in your jaw
- Chronic emotional stress
- Traumatic injuries to the jaw
- The cartilage in your jaw joints deteriorating
- Displacement of the jaw disc and jaw joint
- Tightness and pain in your jaw muscles
- Problems sleeping leading to daytime fatigue
If you have any of the following symptoms of (TMD) and TMJ, we recommend seeking medical advice to determine the extent of your condition. The good news is once it is assessed, TMJ generally responds favorably to intervention and treatment.
TMJ Symptoms You Should Never Ignore
Jaw Clicking/Popping Noises: One of the most common symptoms, it is often accompanied by other symptoms.
Pain When Moving the Jaw: If your teeth are misaligned, the muscles in the jaw tend to compensate for it, leaving you with jaw or ear pain whenever you chew. It can also hurt when you open and close your mouth to talk or yawn.
Persistent Headaches: These can sometimes include pain in the jaw, stiffness in the neck or problems chewing. They can be so painful that they interfere with your day-to-day activities.
Referred Pain: Pain in the jaw can arise from allergies, colds, injuries, and sleeping, but will generally dissipate pretty quickly. TMJ pain, however, can cause neck and shoulder pain and toothache. It can happen when you are still or moving the jaw.
Lockjaw: The jaws can “lock-up” so that you have a hard time opening your mouth wide and closing it. If it does move, you will probably hear it pop into place with a loud click.
Tired Facial Muscles or Swelling: The muscles in your face may try to compensate for what TMJ symptoms are doing, so your face feels tired and saggy on one side. There can also be swelling on one side, often from damage and inflammation of the joint capsule. It can happen when you use the jaw or when at rest.
Chewing Problems: When you look in a mirror, your top and bottom teeth should meet evenly, and you shouldn’t have to strain or stretch to make that happen. A misaligned jaw can lead to difficulties chewing. If your teeth are not properly closing, you can have trouble eating food. If the jaw joints and muscles feel tight, you can try gently stretching them by opening and closing your mouth.
Nonspecific Symptoms: These could include dizziness, problems hearing and even ringing in the ears.
Seeking Pain Relief
You don’t have to live with TMD/TMJ pain. If you find yourself with symptoms that don’t seem to be getting better, do not ignore them as they may likely worsen over time. To avoid complications of untreated TMJ, visit our office to determine if you need treatment. Please call our team to learn more. We look forward to helping you speak, chew and move your jaw without pain!