Know the TMJ Symptoms

TMJ is an umbrella term for neuromuscular disorders that affect the temporomandibular joint. Often related to problems with a patient’s bite, TMJ disorders can cause diverse symptoms in your jaw and throughout your body.

Some of the most common TMJ symptoms include:

  • Popping noises when opening and shutting your mouth
  • Pain and swelling in your face and jaw
  • Difficulty opening and closing your mouth
  • Difficulty chewing
  • Frequent headaches
  • Neck, back, and shoulder pain
  • Uncomfortable bite
  • Ear ringing
  • Ear pain
  • Hearing problems
  • Locked jaw
  • Vertigo or dizziness
  • Tingling in your arms and fingers

The TMJ joint is a complex one that includes bi-directional movement (hinge plus sliding) aided by cartilage and a small disk. TMJ can result from problems with any of these elements, which are damaged by improper bite mechanics.

TMJ Jaw Pain

Jaw pain is usually the first symptom people notice when they develop TMJ disorder. Most of us will experience jaw pain now and then, but if you’re experiencing it for 7-10 days or longer, you should visit your Boston TMJ dentist for an evaluation. While some jaw pain might be situational, such as with an injury or a particularly stressful day, your pain can become chronic when you develop unhealthy habits from prolonged stress.

man holds his jaw in pain, experiencing TMJ symptoms

Your joint may be slipping out of place due to a structural problem or inflammation pushing on your joint. In this case, you’ll likely hear clicking and popping sounds when you open and close your mouth because the joint is slipping in and out of place. Treating your TMJ disorder when the problem is small can help you avoid more significant problems in the future, such as bone degeneration.

Your pain may stem from a pinched nerve, in which case you’ll likely also feel tingling in your fingers and headaches. The trigeminal nerve runs through your jaw joint and is responsible for your jaw movement and all the feeling in your head. So why are you experiencing finger tingling? Because your entire body is an interconnected system. Decreased blood flow from a pinched nerve can affect eventually cause tingling.

If you experience prolonged jaw pain, your Boston TMJ dentist can help. Call (781) 396-8558 or make an appointment online.

TMJ Neck, Back, and Shoulder Pain

Do neck, back, and shoulder pain seem like odd TMJ symptoms? Symptoms that aren’t localized to the point of origin can be tricky to diagnose, but these can indicate advanced TMJ disorder when coupled with other symptoms.

Your jaw has a powerful muscle, and it’s connected to the muscles in your neck, which connect to your shoulders can back. The further you feel the pain from your TMJ, the more likely your disorder is severe. Many people who suffer TMJ symptoms such as these feel a pulling which makes perfect sense. These muscles feel the misalignment of your jaw joint, and they attempt to pull your joint back into place. This causes them to be in a state of contraction constantly and will eventually be painful.

TMJ Headaches

Chronic headaches, including migraines, cluster headaches, and tension headaches, can all have a root cause in TMJ. The jaw is complex, with a network of muscles, nerves, tissue, and bone linked to every area of your face – and running through all this is the trigeminal nerve, which is the longest nerve in your body.

Strain caused by a misaligned jaw can cause tension in the muscles and put pressure on the trigeminal nerve, which in turn can cause chronic headaches. If you have been suffering from headaches with no relief, it may be due to a misaligned jaw. TMJ is a fairly common cause of headaches that many people unfortunately overlook.

If your headaches are causing you constant pain and discomfort, don’t hesitate to call Boston dentist Dr. Clancy for a consultation. He will examine your jaw and determine if TMJ is a possible culprit and how we can fix it if so.

Is TMJ Causing Your Migraines?

If you suffer from migraines, we don’t need to tell you how debilitating they are. Unlike other headaches, they’re a neurological phenomenon that doctors don’t have fully figured out. We know that TMJ treatment can relieve your migraines if they stem from a misaligned joint. Researchers and doctors believe that the nerve running through your joint, the trigeminal nerve, is responsible for migraines. There are two theories.

The first theory is simply a pinched nerve. When the trigeminal nerve is pinched, the stress causes your brain to develop neurological migraine symptoms such as aura and pain. The second theory is that your trigeminal nerve becomes overwhelmed by all the signals going through it—especially the extra signals from your stressed TMJ joint. These signals become jammed and cause a migraine.

At Divine Smiles, Dr. Clancy and his skilled team have helped many people find migraine relief with TMJ treatment. If you experience many or just a few TMJ symptoms, call (781) 396-8558 or make an appointment online with Dr. Clancy.

Consequences of Untreated TMJ Disorder

A woman with jaw pain.Some people might opt to live with their TMJ symptoms if they aren’t particularly severe—yet. But the consequences of leaving TMJ disorder untreated are severe and cost you lots of pain, missed experiences, time with your family and friends, career advancements, and money. Treating your TMJ disorder before it becomes worse is imperative. Even though TMJ disorder is not life-threatening, by treating it, you’ll avoid,

  • Permanent jaw joint damage
  • Permanent nerve damage
  • Chronic pain
  • Depression and anxiety

Relieving TMJ Pain

Your treatment for TMJ usually starts with a diagnosis using one of our cutting-edge technologies, including transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) and K7. These diagnostic tools help us determine your jaw’s natural neutral position so that we can look for the bite-related causes of your pain.

Many TMJ patients benefit from wearing an orthotic device, either all day or just at night. Such devices help encourage your jaw to remain in its most natural position, reducing your TMJ symptoms. Patients who also grind or clench their teeth may wear a customized nightguard to prevent damage while you sleep.

Some patients may also benefit from certain dental restorations, including bridges, fillings, crowns, or dental implants to restore your bite to a more natural configuration.

Schedule an Appointment with a Boston TMJ Dentist

TMJ is a serious condition, but you can get your life back with the right approach. Please contact the Boston neuromuscular dentists at Divine Smiles today at (781) 396-8558 to arrange a TMJ consultation. We are pleased to serve patients in Woburn, Winchester, and the Greater Boston Area.