The symptoms of TMJ dysfunction can vary

Following toothache, TMD is the second highest cause of orofacial pain. Many symptoms of TMD however go unrecognised as being related to TMD, so sufferers go untreated for long periods. Often GP’s and other specialists look for a range of other causes to treat the symptoms of TMD.

Fortunately, as awareness of TMJ dysfunction increases, more patients are receiving prompt treatment to alleviate pain and discomfort.

The symptoms of TMJ dysfunction may include:

  • Pain in the joint area or nearby.
  • Reduction in the movement of the jaw.
  • Clicks or noises when yawning or chewing.
  • Ear symptoms such as noises in the ear, dizziness or sensitivity to sound.
  • Chronic headaches.
  • Sleep disorders.

Pain in and around the joint area

The pain associated with TMD can be constant, or short and sharp in the joint area. The pain can also spread out to the surrounding areas.

Restricted jaw movement

Sufferers can experience limited jaw movement when yawning, or opening and closing the mouth. Some patients may also experience lock-jaw where the jaw does not shut. Treatment of jaw lock requires manipulation of the joint in order to close again.

Clicks or noises when yawning, chewing

The constant or temporary clicking noise experienced by sufferers can be disruptive to daily activities. The clicking sound is heard within the head, rather than from an external sound. Early intervention is recommended for people experiencing clicking.

Ear symptoms such as dizziness or sensitivity to sound

The muscles, fascia and ligaments of the temporomandibular joint are intricately connected to the ear and the nerve that supports the ear. Because of this, persistent or intermittent pain in one or both ears can present as a symptom of TMD. In most cases, hearing is not affected by TMD, but suffered often report a stuffy or clogged feeling in the ear. Ear pain associated with TMD is often worse at night or in the morning. Tinnitus or ringing of the ear can also be the result of TMD.

Chronic headaches

The many causes of headaches often sees TMD left undiagnosed for some time. Wider research into the relationship between TMD and headaches is revealing that a large proportion of tension related headaches can be attributed to TMJ Disorder, particularly in women aged 20–50.

It is important to isolate whether your headaches are caused by TMJ Disorder and the complex relationship between the jaw muscles and the nerves of the face that travel nearby. TMJ Disorder does not alleviate itself, so left untreated, headaches will persist until proper treatment is obtained.

Sleep Disorders

Sleep disorders attributed to TMJ can be ‘pain related’ or ‘obstruction related’. A sleep disorder associated with pain is treated by alleviating the pain. A sleep disorder associated with obstruction, resulting from malocclusion, or imperfect positioning of the teeth when the jaws are closed, should be treated with an occlusal splint, or orofacial, dental and/or orthodontic treatment.

What should I do if I have symptoms of TMJ dysfunction?

For a comprehensive assessment of your TMJ disorder and treatment options, book an assessment with us today.