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Recognizing the Symptoms of TMJ Pain

Are you suffering from headaches, difficulty opening your jaw, facial discomfort, or pain in your neck and shoulders? Our dentists at Burnaby are here to provide insights on possible causes of TMJ disorders.

Head and neck pain or jaw dysfunction are commonly occurring issues that can range from simple to complex. Various factors can contribute to these conditions. Jaw pain, often referred to as "TMJ," but more accurately known as TMD or Temporomandibular Disorder, can be both challenging to endure and treat, depending on the situation.

Symptoms of Temporomandibular Disorder or TMJ Pain

  • Headache / Migraine
  • Jaw joint pain
  • Limited mouth opening
  • Ear congestion
  • Dizziness
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Loose teeth
  • Sleep apnea
  • Clenching or grinding
  • Jaw joint clicking or popping
  • Chewing difficulties
  • Eye pain, ear pain
  • Postural problem - neck, back pain
  • Tingling of the fingers
  • Hot and cold sensitive teeth
  • Nervousness or insomnia
  • Facial pain

How can all of these symptoms be related to the teeth and bite?

The lower jaw has two joints or Temporomandibular Joints (TMJs). The TMJ has a head part that fits into a depression in front of both ears. If you place your fingers in front of your ears and open and close your mouth, you will feel the joints moving down and forward. The joint, along with ligaments, muscles, and tendons, keeps the lower jaw in place.

If the bite is not aligned properly due to sudden injury or a long-term issue with the way the teeth come together, the soft tissues around the joint can get compressed and inflamed.

This inflammation of the TMJ can cause ear pain and affect the delicate muscles and nerves, leading to pain in the neck, shoulders, and back. This type of pain is called referred pain.

What causes TMJ disorders?

The temporomandibular joint combines both hinge and sliding motions. The joint consists of bones covered with cartilage and separated by a small shock-absorbing disk that ensures smooth movement. TMJ disorders can be painful and occur due to the following reasons:

  • The disk erodes or moves out of its proper alignment
  • The joint's cartilage is damaged by arthritis
  • The joint is damaged by a blow or other impact

The causes of TMJ disorders are often unclear, but there are several risk factors to consider, including:

  • Different types of arthritis like rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.
  • Jaw injuries.
  • Chronic teeth grinding.
  • Connective tissue diseases.

Treating TMJ Facial Pain

We take a psychological approach to treating TMJ pain. One key consideration is whether the pain is sudden and intense, or if it has been persistent over a long period. You have two options to think about: addressing the pain and its symptoms directly, or addressing the root causes of the pain.

Contact our Burnaby dentists to learn more about TMJ symptoms, causes, and treatment.

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