Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders are a group of conditions that involve your jaw muscles and joints. TMJ disorders range in symptoms and severity, including jaw pain, earaches, headaches, or popping sensations when you open or close your mouth. Let’s go over the symptoms and potential causes of TMJ disorders, in addition to deciding when to see a doctor.
What are TMJ Disorders?
Your jaw has two temporomandibular joints that connect it to your skull—one on either side of your head. These joints are what allow you to open and close your jaw smoothly, along with your jaw muscles. TMJ disorders can disrupt this smooth movement and cause pain in your jaw joints or muscles.
TMJ disorders can cause a variety of symptoms, from temporary discomfort to consistent pain or difficulty using your jaw. A few common symptoms of TMJ disorders include:
- Tenderness or pain in the jaw
- Pain around one or both jaw joints
- Facial aches
- Aches or pains around your ear
- Pain or discomfort while chewing
- Difficulty chewing
- Jaw locking (difficulty opening or closing your mouth)
- Painful clicking, popping, or grating while chewing or yawning
In many cases, the specific cause of a TMJ disorder is unclear or undetermined. Pain from some TMJ disorders may be caused by genetics or arthritis, while others could be caused by a jaw injury or chronic teeth grinding.
When to See a Doctor
If you are experiencing consistent pain or discomfort in your jaw, or if you have difficulty opening or closing your jaw, it may be time to visit a doctor or TMJ specialist. Your doctor can answer your questions about TMJ disorders, offer relief methods, or discuss further treatment options. Schedule an appointment today!