The temporomandibular joint is a small but necessary part of the human body. It allows you to open and close your jaw to talk, sing, yawn, and chew. However, the TMJ is susceptible to dysfunction, like other parts of the body. TMJ disorders are sometimes colloquially known simply as TMJ. These disorders can cause pain and distress, and their symptoms rarely go away on their own. Fortunately, dentists can treat TMJ disorders using mouthguards, practical advice, and surgery. Here are a few signs that you should see a dentist about your TMJ symptoms:
1. You're unable to open or close your mouth without pain.
The primary symptom of a TMJ disorder is jaw pain. This pain is usually bilateral, which means it affects both sides of your jaw. However, you can experience TMJ pain primarily or exclusively on one side of your face. People with TMJ disorders often experience increased pain when they chew tough foods or go without stretching their jaw muscles for long periods of time. Make sure to schedule an appointment with your dentist if you're suffering from chronic jaw pain that interrupts your life.
2. You feel a popping or clicking sensation when moving your jaw.
People with TMJ disorders often notice a popping or clicking feeling in their jaws when opening and closing their mouths. This is a serious symptom because it might suggest that the cartilage in your jaw is damaged. Mention unusual sounds or sensations to your dentist when describing your symptoms.
3. You have frequent headaches.
Headaches can also be a symptom of TMJ disorders. TMJ headaches are often caused by inappropriate muscle tension. People with this disorder often clench their jaws unwittingly. If you hold your jaw tightly throughout the day, the muscles around your TMJ can become strained. This strain can lead to tension headaches that you feel in your temples. When you visit a dentist to discuss the possibility of TMJ treatment, make sure to mention any headaches that you have been suffering from.
4. You suffer from earaches.
Earaches can also be symptoms of a TMJ disorder. If you suffer from frequent earaches, you should first visit your primary care physician to rule out an ear infection. If no infection is present and you experience other symptoms of TMJ disorders, you should visit a dentist. The TMJ is located in front of the ears. TMJ pain may be referred to your ears, causing you to suffer from earaches.
Contact a dentist to learn more about your options for TMJ dental treatment.