Your temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is a hinging joint that connects your jaw to your skull. There’s one TMJ on either side of your face, just in front of your ears.
The TMJ gives your jaw motion. It helps you chew and speak, but TMJ disorders affect your ability to move your mouth — and they can be very painful.
About 12% of Americans experience the jaw pain, tenderness, and restricted motion that’s characteristic of TMJ disorders. They can cause toothaches and headaches too, but the good news is that they’re often very treatable.
Walied Touni, DDS, MSD, and our team at Touni Orthodontics in Sunnyvale, California, specialize in treating TMJ pain. If you’re bothered by jaw discomfort, it’s time to learn the signs of TMJ disorders.
You could have a TMJ disorder if you have:
1. Jaw pain
The most common symptom of a TMJ disorder is jaw pain. You might feel pain when using your jaw or when you’re at rest. For some, TMJ pain spreads and causes headaches, earaches, or neck aches.
Swelling and tenderness around your cheeks or ears could come with TMJ pain. One or both sides of your jaw may be affected.
2. Audible sound with jaw movement
TMJ disorders can trigger audible sounds when you move your mouth. Listen for clicking, popping, or grating sounds when you open and close your jaw. Pain may accompany these sounds, but it can also be painless.
3. Inability to open jaw wide
Inflammation and stiffness in your jaw joint can restrict your range of motion. If you struggle to open your mouth really wide or it hurts to do so, it could be a sign of a TMJ disorder.
TMJ disorders can also create the sensation that your jaw will pop out of place if you open your mouth too wide.
4. Locked jaw
In severe cases, TMJ disorders can cause a locked jaw. Locked jaws occur when your jaw gets stuck in an open or closed position. Even if you can move your jaw, it might be stiff or sore if you have a TMJ disorder.
5. Sudden bite discomfort
You use your top and bottom teeth to chew, speak, and make facial expressions, but TMJ pain can change the way your jaws work together. If you notice sudden difficulty chewing, it could be a TMJ disorder. TMJ disorders can also give you the sensation that your upper and lower teeth aren’t fitting together properly.
TMJ disorders can be painful and affect your ability to move your mouth. But with expert care, you can find relief from your pain. Dr. Touni and our team treat TMJ disorders with a combination of therapies, including:
- Physical therapy
- Pain-relieving medication
- Corticosteroid injections
Most cases of TMJ pain are relieved with conservative care and rest. But if your pain persists, we’re here to help you find a lasting solution.
Don’t let your TMJ pain go untreated. Schedule a consultation with Dr. Touni by calling our office or requesting an appointment online today.