Estimates place the number of Americans suffering from TMJ at over 10 million. The actual number is unknown, as many are unaware of the connection between their symptoms and the alignment of their teeth. An abbreviation for temporomandibular joint, TMJ is the common term for describing TMD (temporomandibular disorders). TMJ is short for temporomandibular joint. This joint, located just beneath the ear, acts as the hinge connecting the jaw to the upper skull. Muscles connected to this joint are responsible for opening and closing the mouth. A misalignment can lead to muscle fatigue, creating a buildup of lactic acid.
The signs and symptoms of TMJ range in both where and how they manifest. The intensity and duration can vary for each person affected. TMJ/TMD can lead to discomfort across the upper body in the form of migraine headaches, facial pain, earaches and more. For many, symptoms and intensity will increase over time. If you suffer from any of the following there may be a deeper cause. Here are the 5 most common signs and symptoms of TMJ:
- Recurring Headaches
Headaches have a number of contributing causes and have yet to be fully understood. For many, headaches are a common part of life, especially at the office. Yet in the case of frequent or persistent headaches. there may be indications of something more at work. Headaches caused by TMJ/TMD are often compared to migraines in severity and effect. If you’re one of the millions suffering from chronic tension headaches or migraines, TMJ may be the culprit.
Persistent earaches or ringing in the ears may be connected to TMJ. If you experience throbbing, ringing, congestion or other ear discomforts it may be due to TMJ. In cases of TMJ, the jaw may become misaligned for any number of reasons. This can generate increased pressure on the bones comprising the ear canal. This may lead to symptoms similar to ear infections in otherwise healthy people.
- Facial Pain
Pain across the face, behind the eyes, and near the temples may be the result of TMJ-related muscle fatigue. Shifts or changes in the dental structure or bite may cause one side of the jaw to over perform, leading to facial muscle fatigue and discomfort. Over time, these symptoms can increase in severity and for some, eventually become part of daily life. Balancing the workload for the jaw muscles though precision dentistry can alleviate TMJ muscle aches.
- Difficulty Eating
Changes in tooth and jaw alignment can have reaching effects. Missing, twisted, broken or otherwise altered teeth can affect how the jaw operates. As teeth shift, the jaw can compensate by exerting more effort on one side of the mouth. Over time, this causes the jaw alignment itself to shift placing pressure on the skull, throat muscles, and other parts of the face. This can make it challenging to chew and enjoy favorite foods. For those noticing an increased difficulty chewing and eating, jaw alignment may be responsible.
- Clicking and Popping of the Jaw
One of the top symptoms patients report in connection with TMJ is a “clicking” or “popping” of the jaw when opening or closing their mouth. This can range from mild to severe and may include accompanying pain and discomfort. If you experience any clicking popping or grinding sounds emanating from your jaw, you may be suffering from TMJ.
Treat the root cause of TMJ symptoms and start living a comfortable life. TMJ/TMD symptoms have been shown to increase with age. To find out if the alignment of your teeth or jaw may be the cause of your chronic pain, contact Dentistry by John Barras for a TMJ evaluation. At Dentistry by John Barras, we treat TMJ cases for permanent relief from headaches, earaches, muscle aches and much more. There are hundreds of symptoms attributed to TMJ/TMD. For more on treating TMJ or to schedule a TMJ evaluation contact Dentistry by John Barras, DDS in Houston today.