9 Signs That You May Have Temporomandibular Disorder
When you think about the health of your smile, you may consider your teeth, gums and perhaps even your tongue and cheeks. However, beautiful smiles also rely on strong and functional underlying bone structures.
These bone structures primarily consist of the jawbone itself and the temporomandibular joint, or TMJ. The TMJ is located just in front of your ears and serves as the hinge that allows you to open and close your mouth normally when eating, speaking or smiling.
As with any joint, the performance of the TMJ can be affected by certain conditions, known collectively as temporomandibular disorder, or TMD. In this blog, we discuss nine symptoms that may indicate that you have TMD.
1. Abnormal TMJ Sounds
When your TMJ is healthy, you shouldn't notice any sounds as you open or close your mouth. One of the most common symptoms of a TMD is the presence of abnormal TMJ noises, such as popping, clicking and grating.
2. Bite Misalignment
Some TMDs can change the position of your lower jaw. If this alteration occurs, you may immediately notice that your teeth don't seem to fit together the way they should. While bite misalignment can occur for numerous reasons, you should always discuss this change with your dentist.
3. Facial Discomfort or Fatigue
Changes in TMJ function or position can tax the muscles in your face. In addition to bone pain, you may notice tenderness, swelling or fatigue in your face. Typically, TMD facial discomfort is confined to one side of the face in the cheek area.
4. Facial Expression Changes
With significant TMJ shifting, the movement may become visible in your normal facial expressions. If you notice that your smile or even your frown looks different than before without you undergoing any form of orthodontia, consult with your dentist.
If the expression changes also affect your eyes and general facial muscles, the cause may be a stroke rather than TMD. Seek emergency medical care if you suspect that you've had a stroke.
While headaches can occur for myriad reasons, most individuals with TMD experience frequent headaches. These headaches can appear on any part of the head or even on the neck but are most common near the temples.
6. Localised Ear Pain
Because the TMJ sits in such close proximity to the ears, TMJ issues may cause ear discomfort as well. You may notice pain around but not in your ear or ringing or popping that happens in your ear as you open or close your mouth.
7. Locked TMJ
TMD often limits the mobility of your TMJ. You may notice that your jaw seems to get stuck in certain positions, especially first thing in the morning. In extreme situations, you may notice that your TMJ seems to lock in an open or closed position and you must apply heat or massage the area in order to regain movement.
8. Lowered Chewing Ability
Pain when chewing can be disruptive to your normal routines and your needed nutrition. If you notice pain that originates in your jaw rather than your teeth or soft oral tissues, the discomfort may point to the presence of TMD.
Because your inner ear affects your balance, some individuals with TMD also notice changes in their equilibrium. You may experience dizzy spells and feelings of vertigo with no obvious explanation.
If you have any combination of the symptoms listed above, schedule a consultation with a gnathology professional. A gnathologist will work with your general dentist to diagnose, treat and manage your TMD.
For comprehensive dental care, including both general dentistry and gnathology, trust Carlton Dental.