TMJ or temporomandibular joint disease can be incredibly hard to diagnose. Symptoms can include pain ranging from minor to incredibly severe, and more unexpected symptoms such as a ringing in the ears, dizziness, and migraine headaches. It’s possible for two patients with TMJ to literally share zero symptoms.

Although difficult to diagnose by ourselves, TMJ should not be ignored, as it could cause irreversible damage. If you have any of these six symptoms, don’t wait. Schedule an appointment with your dentist immediately.

A calander with a date circled, signifying the importance of scheduling your oral health checkup

Clicking or Popping

It’s true that TMJ manifests itself differently from patient to patient. One of its trademark symptoms, however, is a clicking or popping sound in the jaw. If occurring infrequently, less than once a month, then you may not need treatment. If the popping or clicking is associated with pain or dizziness, then it’s time to see a dentist to get a proper diagnosis.

Pain When Opening Mouth

Many who suffer from TMJ experience similar pain when opening their mouth, and often this pain is worse in the morning. This could be due to bruxism, or clenching and grinding your teeth during sleep, which often worsens TMJ.

Locked Jaw

Coupled with clicking or popping noises, another common symptom of TMJ is the tendency for the jaw to lock. This could include difficulty closing your mouth after opening it wide or difficulty opening your mouth after closing it. Often patients will hear a loud clicking sound when their jaw has realigned and begun functioning as normal.

Tired Facial Muscles

TMJ overloads our jaw muscles forcing the surrounding muscles to overcompensate. The way this often manifests in patients is muscle tiredness located in the jaw, cheeks, and neck, sometimes on one side of the face.

Swelling Of Cheeks

Although not common, TMJ can cause facial swelling around compromised muscles. The cause isn’t always clear, but could be related to inflammation associated with muscle and joint damage or it could be overdevelopment of stressed muscles.

Changes In Your Bite

Because TMJ can disrupt the alignment of your jaw, a major symptom of advanced TMJ is a noticeable change in your bite. If when you press your teeth together there is a perceivable change in the way your teeth meet, this could be a major warning sign that you’re developing malocclusion (jaw misalignment) or structural deformity of some kind, which are a serious complications of TMJ.

If experiencing any of the symptoms above, seeing a dentist as soon as possible is incredibly important. TMJ is a progressive disorder that only becomes more painful, costly, and difficult to treat in the future. Avoiding treatment only increases the possibility of TMJ causing permanent damage to your joints.

If you live in Wilmington, NC, and are worried about your TMJ symptoms, please call (910) 392-6060 today for an appointment with neuromuscular dentist Dr. Michael Kuzma at Kuzma Advanced Dentistry.