TMJ, or temporomandibular joint syndrome, impacts your jaw bone. This joint acts as a hinge that connects your jaw bone to your skull. There are two joints on either side of your mouth. Like with any other body part, you can experience discomfort around your temporomandibular joint.
When does that pain allude to TMJ? Here are symptoms that might hint at a bigger issue and what you should do when you notice them.
Because TMJ affects muscles throughout the face, you might experience frequent headaches. This pain will likely be focused around your temples and ears. It’s easy to mistake a TMJ-induced headache for a migraine or tension headache. In fact, you might not have realised until now that you could be experiencing a TMJ headache.
If you have a misaligned jaw that causes an underbite or overbite, you’re more likely to get headaches. Your jaw endures more stress when you bite down. That leads to headaches. Any irregular jaw movement or positioning can overwork these muscles.
The two sides of your jaw sit near your ears. Therefore, you’ll likely experience some ear pain when you have TMJ. This discomfort can either be inside or outside of your ears. You may also have trouble hearing when you have an earache.
There are ways to distinguish whether your earaches come from TMJ. If you’re wearing tight headgear, for example, you attribute that to your ear pain. Be sure to keep other potential factors in mind before you jump to the conclusion that it’s TMJ.
3. Jaw Pain
In general, you’ll likely feel pain throughout your jaw. This discomfort might be more prominent when eating and drinking. Your cheeks can also ache or hurt as a result of TMJ. Other factors could make your pain worse.
It can be hard to distinguish whether jaw pain means TMJ because you can experience jaw pain and discomfort for various reasons. For example, you could be unknowingly grinding your teeth or have a sinus infection. If you only feel jaw pain without other symptoms, it’s possible that you don’t have TMJ.
4. Clicking And Popping
Does your jaw click or pop? You might hear these noises when opening your mouth. It’s possible to accidentally extend your jaw too much while eating or yawning. In that case, you might not have an issue — but more frequent clicking and popping can be a more considerable concern.
You should also look for pain associated with these sounds. If it’s challenging to open your mouth and you hear clicking or popping, you could have TMJ. However, you may also have arthritis or another jaw-related disorder. Scheduling an appointment with your physician will help.
5. Trouble Chewing
Does it hurt to chew food or gum? This symptom might mean you have TMJ. This condition makes moving your jaw as you would normally more difficult. That happens because TMJ means you have joint damage. It’s going to be harder to chew when your jaw isn’t working correctly.
Take note when you have trouble chewing. If you experience this symptom every time you eat, you should talk to your doctor. You likely have another issue that needs to be addressed — whether that’s TMJ or not. It’s not normal to feel pain every time you eat something.
6. Facial Discomfort
TMJ can also cause facial discomfort. This pain isn’t necessarily a headache or an earache, but you can experience those instances. Instead, you might feel pain around your cheeks or mouth. This discomfort usually feels achy rather than sharp or stabbing.
There are many causes of facial pain that aren’t related to TMJ. It’s important to explore these other possibilities before you jump to conclusions. You might have TMJ, but you could also be dealing with another concern. A good rule of thumb is to consider other symptoms alongside facial pain. If you have those, you’re likely experiencing TMJ.
What To Do When You Experience These Signs
If you’re noticing one or more of these signs, you should speak with your doctor. You can use specific home remedies to make symptoms more bearable. Things such as ice packs and pain relievers can offer relief. You might also need to make more straightforward changes, like not chewing gum.
That said, it’s more worthwhile to see your physician sooner rather than later. You don’t want to let TMJ persist unnecessarily. That’s especially true when no remedy you’re trying seems to work. Schedule an appointment to alert your doctor that you’re feeling these symptoms.
Keep An Eye Out For These Potential TMJ Symptoms
TMJ doesn’t often turn into a substantial problem. In fact, you might be able to permanently relieve your symptoms by using homemade remedies. Still, it’s smart to let your physician know when you’re experiencing jaw pain or discomfort. You might need medical treatment.