Signs and Symptoms of TMJ

Signs and Symptoms of TMJ

The human skull is a bony structure that supports the face. It forms a protective bone cavity that protects the brain. The Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) is the joint connecting the jawbone to the skull. The joint acts as a hinge when you open and close your mouth. Temporomandibular Syndrome refers to disorders that affect the TMJ joint. These disorders can be caused by different things, from infections and trauma to congenital defects.

Symptoms of TMJ

The most common symptom of TMJ disorder is pain and discomfort. You experience pain and tenderness in your jaw. You have difficulty chewing and feel like your jaw is low. The jawbone locks, and you have difficulty opening and closing your mouth. Swelling and redness around the joint and facial pain in the sides of the face also indicate a TMJ problem. You experience a radiating pain that feels like a toothache.

Some people experience a lump in the temple area. Muscle spasms and tenderness are also common with TMJ disorders. TMJ disorders also cause a grinding or clicking sound when you move your jaw. Sometimes, patients with TMJ disorder experience popping sounds in the ears as well as an earache. Headaches and migraines are also common with TMJ syndrome.

What Causes TMJ?

Some people are born with congenital disorders that affect bones and joints. TMJ syndrome can also be caused by several things. Blunt trauma to the face is one of the leading causes of TMJ syndrome. If you have a hard blow to the face, the TMJ can suffer a misalignment injury. People who grind teeth are at a high risk of TMJ disorders.

Inflammation and infections in the muscles, tendons, and joint ligaments also cause TMJ disorders. Inflammatory musculoskeletal disorders, such as arthritis and osteoporosis, affect joints all over the body. Surprisingly, some lifestyle choices like chewing too much gum, eating hard foods, and poor posture can also contribute to some TMJ disorders.

Diagnosis and Treatment


The diagnosis and treatment of TMJ disorders depend on the symptoms and cause of the problems. Your doctor may give you dental X-rays to examine the area. CT scan or an MRI can be recommended, depending on the nature of the symptoms. Sometimes, the patient gets a TMJ arthroscopy to view the problematic area. Depending on the disorder, the specialist can choose the course of treatment.

Some TMJ cases can go away after a while without treatment. Mild cases are treated with pain relief medication as well as an anti-inflammatory medication. Muscle relaxers are used to treat stiffness and muscle spasms. Some patients require surgery and physical therapy, especially in trauma cases. Corticosteroid injections help relieve pain and stiffness in the joints.

Congenital defects affecting joints and muscles are treated with corrective surgery. Surgery can be minimally invasive, or it can be open joint surgery. In some cases, the patient needs counseling and lifestyle changes. This applies to people who clench and grind their teeth. Anxiety can cause people to grind teeth, lean on their chin, and clench their jaw, which leads to TMJ disorder.

To know more about TMJ, visit Eagle Gate Dental at our offices in Salt Lake City, Utah. You can also call 801-781-5300 to book an appointment today.