There is no test for TMJ disorder, so how is it identified?
Along with a physical examination and detailed medical and dental history, oral surgeons rely heavily on patient symptoms to diagnose TMJ problems. Patients who experience some or all the eight symptoms listed below should schedule an appointment with an oral surgeon, as it could indicate a problem with the temporomandibular joint.
No. 1: Jaw Pain
Chronic, ongoing pain in the jaw joint and supporting muscles are commonly associated with TMJ problems. The pain often feels like a dull ache, and for many patients, the painful sensation comes and goes.
No. 2: Pain in the Face or Neck
TMJ problems can also present as soreness throughout the face and neck. The pain may affect one or both sides of the body, and it may occur irregularly or constantly.
No. 3: Ear Pain or Pressure
Ear pain and pressure are often assumed to be an ear infection, but the symptoms may actually be related to temporomandibular joint inflammation and tenderness in the jaw muscles. With TMJ disorder, patients typically experience an earache below or in front of the ear.
No. 4: Headaches
Migraines aren’t the only cause of chronic head pain — many patients with TMJ problems report suffering frequent headache-like pain. TMJ headaches are typically accompanied by other symptoms; however, unlike with migraines, these don’t include nausea, blurred vision or seeing auras.
No. 5: Jaw Muscle Stiffness
When the jaw muscles are stiff and sore every morning, tooth grinding during sleep is usually the reason. Grinding the teeth, known as bruxism, is linked to TMJ disorder as the constant, forceful motion exerts excessive pressure and stress on the jaw joints.
No. 6: Limited Jaw Movement
Difficulty opening and closing the mouth can indicate a problem with the temporomandibular joint. In some TMJ patients, the jaw may even slip out of place or lock in an open or closed position.
No. 7: Unusual Jaw Sounds
Clicking, grating or popping sounds in the jaw are a common sign of TMJ disorder. Occasional noises may not be a cause for concern, but when the symptoms frequently occur when chewing or opening and closing the mouth, oral surgeons suspect TMJ.
No. 8: Change in Bite
TMJ problems can also affect the bite. A change in how the upper and lower teeth fit together may indicate a problem in the temporomandibular joint. The change in bite may be detected by an oral surgeon or the patient may complain that their bite feels different or “off.”
Are you experiencing one or more of these symptoms? To determine whether TMJ disorder may be to blame, schedule an appointment with the oral health experts of Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery of Utah.
With more than 10 years of experience in successfully treating patients with jaw-related facial conditions, Dr. Partridge and Dr. Maxfield understand how to diagnose, treat and manage problems with the temporomandibular joint. Contact our Cottonwood Heights, South Jordan or Tooele office today to schedule an evaluation for TMJ disorder.