A great debate rages in the dental world: "What are TMJ symptoms and do they even exist?"
Migraines, jaw pain, teeth grinding and neck pain - these are just some of the symptoms of temporomandibular joint disorder, sometimes referred to as TMJ or TMD. All TMJ symptoms commonly appear with other medical problems too. Thus the great dentistry debate which turns out to be, if you'll pardon the pun, a pain in the neck, especially for those suffering from actual TMJ dysfunction symptoms.
When TMD remains difficult to diagnose, TMJ symptoms treatment seems frustratingly elusive. Since the dental and medical experts find symptoms of TMJ difficult to diagnose, they also find it difficult to nail down data: information from Columbia University estimates that 10 million Americans suffer from some sort of TMJ symptoms, while the TMJ Association online (a network of TMD patients) claims three times that many people experience minor TMJ dysfunction symptoms to major TMJ pain symptoms.
Dental experts do agree, however, that the disorder embodies muscular, tendon and ligament problems in the jaw and neck, and/or problems with bones and cartilage around the joints. The following symptoms of TMJ may occur on one or both sides of your face, head and body:
Jaw Pain - Soreness when yawning, chewing or swallowing, an almost sure thing in terms of TMJ dysfunction symptoms
Other Pain - Headache, shoulder or neck pain, soreness in the face
Limited Mobility - An inability to open your mouth as wide as you should or once could
That "Not Quite Right" Feeling - An uncomfortable bite; the feeling that your upper and lower jaws no longer line up as they did or should
Odd Noises - Popping, clicking or grating sounds as your jaw opens and closes - another nearly "sure sign" in the category of TMJ dysfunction symptoms
Teeth Grinding - Also known as bruxism; usually occurs during sleep
It's no wonder the medical experts experience difficulty identifying temporomandibular joint disorders, as many of these symptoms of TMJ stem from other conditions.
For example, if you feel stressed, you may experience headaches and neck pain, not necessarily TMJ symptoms. But your stress may also lead to some teeth grinding at night, which may cause jaw pain and sore facial muscles - which may also lead to headaches and neck pain. Think you're experiencing TMJ dysfunction symptoms yet? More important: Will your dentist diagnose stress or TMJ pain symptoms due to stress? And if you're not stressed, are the symptoms of TMJ due to actual bone or ligament damage or to a musculature problem?
You'll find the answer to the symptoms of TMJ in the dental chair. Your dentist may take X-rays or order an MRI to look at the temporomandibular joints themselves to spot damage. He or she may even fit you with a mouth guard to halt the wear-and-tear of stress-related teeth grinding. And your dentist may eliminate other potential causes of your TMJ pain symptoms, such as toothache, sinus issues and periodontal disease.
The first step for relieving your jaw pain is to determine the root cause, and the cure lies in finding out if the TMJ symptoms stem from muscular or skeletal damage. The road to relief starts with a dentist visit.
To find a dentist who can help you with your TMJ symptoms, call us at 1-866-970-0441.