If you have TMJ symptoms, it’s important to understand these red flags and warning signs of a potentially serious problem.
Temporomandibular joint and muscle disorders, a.k.a. TMJ disorders or TMD, affect facial muscles and the joints that connect the jaw to the skull. Take a look at the following warning signs to determine whether this syndrome may affect you.
Pain and Stiffness
Pain is usually the primary symptom of TMJ syndrome.
Typically, patients feel pain in the jaw, but many also have discomfort elsewhere, including the eyes, forehead, face, ears, neck or the base of the tongue. Pain may be intermittent or constant, and it may affect one or both sides of the face.
If you have TMD, you may also have discomfort in the jaw muscles, and it may seem that your upper and lower teeth no longer fit together correctly.
Stiffness and problems chewing or moving the jaw are other common TMD symptoms. The muscles of the jaw and face can become tight with this disorder, and the jaw may even lock at the joint, making it difficult to open and close your mouth.
Noises and Issues with Hearing
Often, people who suffer from TMJ disorder complain of a clicking or popping sound in the jaw joint.
These sounds typically occur when chewing or when opening and closing the mouth. Some people also hear cracking or grating. It is also common to experience ringing in the ears (tinnitus) with this syndrome.
In addition, TMJ can cause a sense of fullness or clogging in the ears, resulting in a diminished ability to hear. This can lead to dizziness and balance problems.
When to Seek Medical Attention
If you are experiencing any TMJ symptoms — particularly if you are having trouble chewing or opening or closing your mouth — it is important to schedule an appointment with an oral surgeon or other health care provider. A medical professional is the only person who can accurately diagnose the disorder and develop a treatment plan to help alleviate symptoms.
Some people find relief through conservative treatments, such as massage, stretching exercises and stress reduction techniques. Pain can often be managed with cold packs and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen or naproxen, if recommended by a doctor.
If these treatments are not successful in alleviating TMJ symptoms, a mouthguard or splint may be the next step. In many cases, however, orthodontic treatment or reconstructive jaw surgery may be the most effective means of addressing TMD problems.
Left untreated, TMJ and TMD will worsen over time and affect your overall health. Contact Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery of Utah today to schedule a consultation to discuss your TMJ symptoms.