TMJ Disorder stands for temporomandibular joint disorder (many shorten it to simply TMJ). It’s a pain and decreased mobility in your temporomandibular joint, the joint that connects your jaw to your skull. The pain is caused by your jaw joint becoming misaligned, and there are many reasons why it could become so:
- Trauma or injury
- Teeth grinding
- Different types of arthritis
But one thing remains clear, TMJ disorder can cause immense pain and be debilitating for the sufferer to the point that their quality of life decreases. Many people with severe TMJ find themselves skipping social events, being unengaged at home, missing work, and feeling a general distance between themselves and others due to pain and TMJ’s other symptoms.
If you think you might be experiencing TMJ symptoms, we can help. Our St. Louis TMJ dentist has neuromuscular training from the Las Vegas Institute for Advanced Dental Studies and has treated hundreds of patients with TMJ. His advanced techniques and technology mean that your treatment will be as quick as your body will allow and painless. If you live in the St. Louis area and are looking for a TMJ dentist, call Dr. Chris Hill at (314) 678-7876 or make an appointment online today.
TMJ Symptoms Can be Hard to Identify
While TMJ’s symptoms are readily identifiable to the sufferer, they are harder to diagnose because they are common in many different illnesses, conditions, and disorders. Because of that, doctors can overlook TMJ disorder. You might go through treatment for something else and still experience TMJ pain.
This painful disorder has many symptoms, but here are some of the most common symptoms we hear.
Are you experiencing…
A Headache at the Front of your Head?
Headaches are a common symptom of TMJ disorder (sometimes migraines, too!) Due to the misalignment in your jaw joint, a few things can happen to cause head pain.
- Referred pain headaches: This type of headache occurs when you have pain in your jaw causing your headache. With this type of headache, many people feel neck pain, too, which is another TMJ symptom.
- Teeth clenching and grinding: Clenching and grinding your teeth due to TMJ pain or stress that causes TMJ can also cause headaches. Your jaw joint is so overworked that it causes strain on your nerves and raises your blood pressure—causing your headache.
- Pinched nerves: Your largest cranial nerve runs through your jaw joint. When your jaw is misaligned, it can pinch this nerve and cause headaches and migraines.
TMJ headaches tend to reoccur in the same areas, such as a headache at the front of your head. Yet, solely having headaches doesn’t mean you have TMJ, but it also doesn’t mean that you don’t. Pay attention to your body and try to identify other symptoms. If your headaches are coupled with jaw pain and ear symptoms and occur on one side of your head, it’s time to set up an appointment with Dr. Hill.
Did you know that TMJ causes many ear symptoms? It might seem like an odd symptom, making many people think that their ear is the problem. But think about it: your jaw joints sit right below your ears on both sides of your head. The mere proximity of your ears to the temporomandibular joints is enough to cause these symptoms:
- Ear pain: Ear pain is caused by your jaw joint’s inflammation pulling on the ligaments and nerves that attach to your ear.
- Vertigo and dizziness: Your ears help you balance, and when there is a strain on your inner ear, the fluid that sends signals to your brain can be misinterpreted, and you’ll lose your balance. In severe cases, you can have vertigo.
- Ear ringing: Ear ringing is a common symptom of TMJ because it’s a sign of hearing loss. Inflammation and swelling cause damage to your inner ear, and your brain doesn’t know what to make of the signals, so it interprets them as ringing.
- Clicking and popping sounds: Clicking and popping sounds aren’t an ear symptom, but only you can hear them. These are the sounds of your jaw slipping in and out of its joint as you move your mouth. Sometimes, your jaw can even lock.
- Hearing loss: If you let your TMJ go on long enough without treatment, you could experience permanent hearing loss. That’s just one reason why it’s so important to have your TMJ treated.
Jaw and Ear Pain Together?
Do you experience jaw and ear pain together? That’s a good sign that you might suffer from TMJ disorder. Our rule of thumb is that if you experience symptoms together, you should make an appointment sooner than later. The appearance of more than one symptom can mean that your TMJ disorder is getting worse, which can cause permanent damage to your jaw joint and your ears.
Jaw Pain, Right Side, Near the Ear?
You have two temporomandibular joints, and it is uncommon for both to be misaligned when you have TMJ disorder—that’s why you only feel symptoms on one side of your head. You might have jaw and ear pain on the right side but not on the left.
Pain in the Left Side of the Face, Jaw, and Ear?
In addition to the jaw and ear pain, you might also have facial pain that occurs only on one side of your head. This facial pain is caused by the inflammation and swelling of your jaw joint. And again, it’s not odd to have the pain only occur on one side of your head since it’s likely that only one joint is out of alignment.
We Can Treat Your TMJ
If you’re wondering how to fix TMJ, we can help. Some cases of TMJ disorder can resolve on their own such as temporary stress, causing teeth grinding, or an injury or trauma that will heal. But other times, you’ll need to visit your St. Louis TMJ dentist. The specific treatment you’ll receive is custom to you and the cause of your TMJ, but we have a process we follow to find that cause and prescribe treatment.
- We’ll use a series of advanced technology to relax your jaw and find its proper resting position. We’ll also measure your jaw movements and the activity in your head and neck, listen to your joint, get an x-ray of your head, neck, and jaw joint, track your jaw movement and analyze your bite. This data will help us determine if your jaw is the cause of your pain, why it occurred, and how we’ll proceed with treatment.
- In many cases, we’ll create a custom orthotic that you’ll wear 24/7. If your symptoms are resolved, we’ll know we can move on to the next step.
- The final step is reconstructing your mouth to hold your jaw in the correct position where your symptoms are eliminated. This may require dental crowns, dental implants, dental veneers, orthodontics, and other dental procedures.
Find TMJ relief in St. Louis
If you think you may have TMJ disorder, call us at (314) 678-7876 or make an appointment online. Our St. Louis TMJ dentist can relieve your TMJ pain for good.