TMJ symptoms may include any of the following
Headaches are one of the most common complaints of TMJ sufferers. These are so frequent and severe that they can be confused with migraine headaches. TMJ headaches are most often felt in the temple area, behind the eyes and at the back of the head with pain radiating to the neck and shoulders. If you suffer from TMJ headache, you should contact a dentist with training in the diagnosis and treatment of these disorders.
Clenching and grinding (bruxing) is another common sign of TMJ disorder. By putting additional stress on already tired, overworked muscles, bruxism can cause referred pain to the head, neck, face, shoulder or back.
Earaches, congestion or ringing in the ears
In the absence of any ear infection, these symptoms can be related to a structural problem within the TM joint. Loss of hearing, dizziness and loss of balance are also not uncommon. If the condyle is too far back and the disc dislocated forward, the muscles of mastication (chewing) can go into spasm and cause any of the symptoms as mentioned above. If your medical doctor or ENT-ear, nose and throat specialist can find no apparent reason for the ear problems that you are experiencing, you should be referred to a dentist trained in the diagnosis and treatment of TM Disordrers.
Clicking, popping or grating sounds when opening or closing the mouth
These are common warning signs of TM Disorders. Clicking occurs when the condyle (top of the lower jaw) moves forward as the patient opens the mouth and the condyle slips on and off the dislocated disc. The grating sound, called crepitus, is the sound of bone rubbing on bone and occurs later on when the dislocated disc becomes completely deformed. The purpose of the disc is to act as a protective cushion between the two bones of the lower jaw (condyle) and the skull (glenoid fossa). When the protective disc is permanently dislocated or distorted, the two bones contact each other and this causes loud noises.
Limited jaw opening or locking
It is crucial to treat a dislocated disc early on, when the jaw is clicking, and not wait until the later stages when the grating sounds are louder and the patient experiences extreme pain if the jaw locks open or closed. While there are still treatments available to patients to unlock and stabilize the joint at this stage, the sooner it is treated, however, the better.
Sleep disturbances are common in patients suffering from dislocated jaw joints. Typically the patient is unable to reach the deep stages of sleep and is awakened many times during the night, thus feeling tired and listless with an obvious lack of energy upon awakening. Pain resulting from severe muscle contractions, muscle spasms and trigger points caused by the dislocated jaw joints or clenching and bruxing habits are the main causes for sleep disturbances.
Depression is common with TMJ. Patients often feel helpless as the nature and cause of their pain is not well understood by most. Also, plenty of scientific evidence shows that chronic pain patients (and TMJ patients fall in this category) have changes in chemicals in the brain (termed neurotransmitters) as result of the pain which can and do cause depression. Moreover, because of sleep disturbances as a result of TMJ pain or changes in the brain’s neurotransmitter chemicals, the patient does not feel well rested and this adds fuel to the fire of depression. This also makes their pain seem worse.
Photophobia, or light sensitivity. A dislocated TMJ may produce pain in and behind the eye, which can cause sensitivity to light. Blurred vision and eye muscle twitching are also common in TMJ patients.
Other classical symptoms of TMJ are:
» Difficulty closing the teeth together
» Numbness in hands/fingertips
» Difficulty in swallowing » Back pain
» Shoulder pain
If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms you could possibly have a problem with your jaw (TMJ). Please give us a call. We can help.