You may already know that temporomandibular (TMJ) disorders are a group of conditions that affect your jaw. So if your jaw doesn’t hurt, you don’t have TMD, right?
Not necessarily. Many people may be living with a TMJ condition without knowing it because their symptoms don’t involve jaw pain at all. And, because the causes of TMD can vary from person to person, it is often difficult to identify and diagnosed. Let’s take a look at the most common causes and the often mysterious symptoms.
What Causes TMD?
TMD is a common problem today, affecting millions of Americans. But because the symptoms can vary widely and it can be caused by different issues, it’s often misdiagnosed. The following are just a few of the factors that can cause or worsen TMD symptoms in many people:
- Clenching and/or grinding the teeth known as bruxism (stress can contribute to this)
- Problems with the jaw muscle or joint
- Injuries to the head and neck, such as whiplash
Still, in many patients, the cause of TMD is unknown. You could have TMD without having any of these risk factors. That’s why it’s important to seek help from a professional who can properly diagnose and treat the condition – not just the symptoms.
Not Just Jaw Pain
To complicate things further, TMD is often not just a matter of having jaw pain. There are a number of other symptoms people may experience with TMD that seem to be totally unrelated – but a medical professional may identify them as a jaw problem. Take a look at these possible symptoms:
- Ongoing ear pain or pain near the ear, especially when you speak, chew, or open your mouth
- Hearing problems or ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
- Facial pain
- Clicking or popping of the jaw – even without pain
- Pain in the neck and shoulder area
- A jaw that feels stiff or gets “stuck” when opening or closing
Because some of these symptoms can be signs of another problem, TMD can be hard to identify at first. Headaches, for instance, can be caused by a variety of problems, from sinus issues to stress or other issues. That’s why it’s important to talk with your dentist or physician about any symptoms you’re having.
Talking About Your Symptoms
Many people may bring up these issues with their primary care physician or dentist at a routine check-up, which is a good starting point to finding the cause and potential solutions. If a TMJ disorder is suspected, MedCenter TMJ offers specialized tests and treatments that can help you find relief from jaw problems.
If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms listed here, you may have TMD. Contact our Houston TMJ practice today to find out more or schedule a consultation with one of our doctors.