TMJ Guide

What are the Tell-tale Signs of TMJ?

In simple language, the temporomandibular joint is a complex bone formation where the jaw joins the skull. It has been so termed because the lower jaw that is known as the mandible, joins with the temporal bone of the skull at this point. However, dysfunction of this joint result in headache, jaw clicking, earache and sometimes, loss of hearing and these are all associated with the TMJ disorder. Traumatic conditions or undue stress on this joint usually causes the symptoms that often lead to misdiagnosis. And on top of that, there can be unusual symptoms of TMJ as well.


It is therefore necessary to check the signs and symptoms before arriving at a conclusion for TMJ. Incidentally, the TMJ syndrome signs normally refer to those that are noticeable by a medic whereas the TMJ syndrome symptoms are those that become apparent to the person who is suffering from them. However, to arrive at the correct diagnosis, both are taken into account here.


As the TMJ dysfunction signs and symptoms appear both in direct as well as indirect form, these are separately discussed here for the convenience of the reader…


Direct Signs and Symptoms of the TMJ Disorder


  • Clicking or popping sound is heard when the patient is chewing food or even engaged in conversation. It can be heard by other person too. Although there is no pain associated with this, it nevertheless tells clearly that the TMJ is not functioning normally. In fact, a damaged or displaced disc is often found responsible for this episode.


  • Jaw locking is yet another sign of TMJ. It usually happens when the person opens the mouth to take a bite at an apple or prepares for a gurgle. Of course, the problem can be digitally resolved by pressing both fingers below the ear when the jaw snaps back into normal position. It can be both painful as well as irritating however.


  • Change in bite pattern is a TMJ syndrome sign. It becomes immediately noticeable to the person as he/she feels that there is a sudden problem in mastication – that the synchronization between the upper jaw and the lower jaw has gone haywire. This type of dental occlusion occurs when the TMJ cushioning disc is somehow displaced. Injury caused to the TMJ is often responsible for this and boxers are mostly the victims.


Indirect Signs and Symptoms of TMJ Syndrome 


  • Persistent headache located near the temples or in the back of the head without any apparent reason is a sign of TMJ disorder.


  • Tender facial muscles turning to myofascial syndrome is an indirect sign of TMJ dysfunction, more so when the person wakes up in the morning with sore facial muscles.


  • Neck pain due to muscle contraction originating from incessant teeth clenching and TMJ dysfunction.


  • Hearing difficulty can be an indirect sign of TMJ dysfunction although this problem is also associated with Tinnitus or other ear related disorders. The matter needs thorough probe by efficient ENT doctors in collaboration with doctors specialized in treating TMJ problems.


  • Sinus stuffiness felt by the person may indicate TMJ. Medics not much familiar to TMJ are likely to discount the episode, commenting the case as mere imagination. Nevertheless, the feeling of some kind of sinus blockage is nothing unusual for those who are suffering from TMJ.


  • Dizziness but not vertigo can be an indirect symptom of TMJ since the middle ear which contains the balancing mechanism and the temporomandibular joint are very much near each other. Any inflammation affecting the mid ear will have its effect on the TMJ.


  • Teeth sensitivity is bound to happen when one is clenching teeth at all times – more so with a displaced or damaged disc creating problems in the TMJ. Misdiagnosis again by a dentist unaware of the TMJ dysfunction and its effect on the teeth is likely to remove the innocent teeth for the fault of the disc!


  • Sensitivity to light or photophobia may be experienced by someone suffering from TMJ since a dislocated TM Joint may induce pain behind the eyeball, causing light sensitivity and other vision related problems.


  • Depression haunts the TMJ sufferer for the simple reason that no one seems to believe the story (of bad bites or locking jaws). The friendly family doctor may prescribe a placebo; the ENT would recommend a dentist who will insist on removal of a tooth or two while the surgeon may traumatize the lonely soul with the fear of cancer if the temporomandibular joint is not immediately opened up with the help of general anesthesia and the natural disc replaced by a synthetic piece.


TMJ Treatment


The only TMJ treatment that really works is holistic remedies and not exercises to relieve TMJ, home TMJ remedies, conventional medications and over the counter solutions. Holistic remedies reach within the body and treat the body as a whole. The approach here is just not to treat the symptoms, but to identify all the root causes that are causing the disorder. Once these root causes are identified and treated, the TMJ symptoms go away on their own, never to come back again. Holistic remedies thus offer permanent and quick results.

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