A TMJ disorder calls attention to how much you need a functioning jaw. Your temporomandibular joint is one that you might not fully appreciate until it’s out of alignment.
In some cases, a TMJ disorder will heal on its own. But if you’re experiencing any of the four common, painful symptoms listed below and they aren’t letting up, you may need to explore treatment options.
1. Constant Headache
Headaches can derail your day. You can’t focus productively at work or relax at home when you have a constant throbbing in your head. A headache caused by a TMJ disorder can be as bad as a migraine. If you’re already prone to migraines, the tension headache from a TMJ disorder can trigger a full-blown migraine.
A headache alone won’t clue you in to the fact that you have a TMJ problem, but if you’re also experiencing the next three side effects, it’s likely that this is the reason for your discomfort.
The muscles connected to the temporomandibular joint are also connected to your ear and the nerves in that region. A TMJ problem is one of the top reasons adults complain of an earache.
3. Trouble Chewing or Swallowing
When you chew, swallow or yawn, does your jaw hurt? Even if the pain is manageable, do your teeth feel like they’re not fitting together comfortably when you bite down?
Any changes in your comfort level with how your jaw fits together is cause for concern about a possible TMJ problem.
4. Locked Jaw
If your jaw pops or clicks when you open or close your mouth, or if the jaw completely locks, this definitely points to a TMJ disorder, especially if other side effects are present. A jaw locked in the open or closed position isn’t just frustrating — it can be extremely painful and may require emergency attention.
What Caused the Issue?
If you’re now realizing that the pain you’ve been feeling may be related to a TMJ disorder, you’re probably wondering what caused this issue to begin with. Here are a few common reasons:
- Facial trauma to the jaw
- Arthritis in the joint
- Disk erosion or misalignment
- Chronic teeth grinding (bruxism)
- Bad posture
- Excessive gum chewing
- Intense stress
Also, a family history of TMJ problems may increase your risk of developing this disorder.
When Should You Call Your Doctor?
If you have jaw pain after an injury, call your doctor right away. Swelling and inflammation in your jaw is also cause for concern. A locked jaw, an abnormal bite or a sudden, intense headache also mean you need to contact your doctor, dentist or oral surgeon right away.
Lesser jaw pain can be monitored, but if you have pain while moving your jaw and it doesn’t go away within two weeks, it’s time to have it examined.
Northeast Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery can help you treat and overcome even the most painful TMJ disorder — call today for a consultation if you are suffering from these symptoms.