You probably don’t spend much time thinking about your temporomandibular joints … unless they are causing problems.
These ball-and-socket joints are where your lower jaw connects to your skull. These joints also are what allows you to open and close your mouth to speak, to sing, and to eat.
If you are dealing with a TMJ disorder, this can interfere with many everyday situations. If you live in or near San Antonio, our dentists can help.
TMJ treatments are part of what we do at Advanced Dental Associates. It’s also why we want you to be aware of six common signs that you could have a TMJ problem so you can seek help as soon as possible.
➤ 1. Jaw pain in the morning
Let’s start with some of the more obvious symptoms. If you wake up most mornings with pain in your jaw, then you may be doing something in your sleep that is contributing to your problem.
You could be one of the millions of people who grind or clench your teeth in your sleep. Studies have shown that people who do this may be putting double or even triple the normal pressure on their jaw as a result.
The constant pressure can strain your TMJ as well as the muscles around those joints.
Try to document how often you wake up with a sore jaw, and please contact Advanced Dental Associates if this is a concern. We can examine your teeth for signs of grinding.
➤ 2. Jaw pain while eating
The pains of teeth grinding can fade during the day, but certain behaviors such as eating can bring back those pains.
If your jaw hurts while you eat or shortly after you have finished a meal, then you need to pay attention to when and how often this happens. In some cases, you may be able to alleviate the problem by sticking to softer foods for a few days. If the problem returns when you start eating harder or chewier foods again, just remember that we are here to help.
➤ 3. Frequent headaches
Headaches occur for a number of reasons. Even if you are having headaches frequently, your first thought may not be that it could be related to your jaw in some way.
The teeth grinding and clenching that we mentioned earlier can have a ripple effect. This can pressure can manifest as a pain in your head, including what feels like a migraine headache. Again, this may occur more often in the mornings if you are grinding your teeth in your sleep.
➤ 4. Frequent earaches
This is similar to what is happening with your headaches. When you consider the location of your TMJ, this may make even more sense.
Place your fingers just below your ears and open and close your mouth. You will likely be able to feel your jaw moving. This will help you understand why a problem with your TMJ can lead to ear problems as well.
➤ 5. Jaw mobility problems
Teeth grinding is only one possible factor causing TMJ troubles. Arthritis, injuries, and illness can affect your joints and the tissues around them as well.
Inflammation or swelling can make it harder to fully open or close your mouth. You might even find times when your jaw feels stuck temporarily.
➤ 6. Pains in your face, neck, upper back, or shoulders
Do you remember that song from your childhood about your bones being connected? Some could write a similar song about muscles.
If your teeth grinding or a strain is affecting your jaw muscles, this also can spread to other muscles that are connected directly or indirectly to this part of your body.
Are These Symptoms Affecting You?
TMJ disorders can be complicated. They can develop as a result of multiple causes — teeth grinding, arthritis, illnesses, and injuries.
And we pointed out above, they can lead to multiple symptoms. You may experience one of them, all of them, or any number in between.
We don’t like to see any of our patients in pain at Advanced Dental Associates. If we can do anything to help, that’s what we want to do.
If you are concerned that you might have a TMJ disorder, please call our dentist office in San Antonio at (210) 819-5233 or contact us online to schedule an appointment.