How Do You Know If You Have TMJ Disorder or Something Else?


Do you feel tormenting pain in your jaw area that does not go away? Are you wondering if you have TMJ disorder? Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD) or syndrome is an assortment of painful conditions that directly affect the TMJ and the jaw muscles. Women experience TMD twice more frequently than men. 

Where Are Your Temporomandibular Joints?

Put together your index and middle fingers, and touch the joints in front of your ears on each head’s side. Then, slowly open and close your mouth. You can feel the TMJs connect the lower jaw (the mandible) to the skull (the temporal bone). In short, you have two TMJs. These joints are highly flexible. They can efficiently move from side to side, then up and down. Without them, you won’t be able to talk, eat, and make facial expressions. The muscles surrounding the TMJs are responsible for their positioning and movement.

The rounded ends of the lower jaw, known as the condyles, glide along with your joint sockets in the temporal bone whenever you open and close your mouth. Whenever you close your mouth, these bones go back to their original spot. There is a soft disc in-between the temporal bone and the condyles. These discs allow smooth motion while also serving as the shock absorbers of your TMJs.

Whenever a person feels pain from TMD, it rarely indicates a serious issue. In most cases, pain is only temporary or irregular. However, it can also happen in cycles and usually goes away on its own. Some people, unfortunately, develop long-lasting symptoms. For them, the pain can be very severe and depressing. 

Types of TMJ Disorder

TMD has these three types:

  • Myofascial Pain

It is the most widespread form of TMD. It causes distress in the shoulder muscles, the neck muscles, and the muscles that manage the jaw function.

  • Internal Derangement of the Joint

It happens when there is a dislocation of the jaw, injury to the condyles, or displacement of the disc. 

  • Degenerative Joint Disease

Some examples include osteoarthritis in the jaw joint and rheumatoid arthritis. There are times when two or all of these conditions may happen simultaneously. Nowadays, researchers learn more about how psychological, physical, and behavioral factors combine and bring about TMD.

Do I Have TMJ Disorder?

You may have TMJ disorder if you answered YES to at least two of these relevant questions:

  • Do you frequently grind or clench your teeth?
  • Are you dizzy most of the time?
  • Does your jaw often click when you open or close your mouth?
  • Do you often get headaches, especially in the morning?
  • Have you seen any of your teeth wear down?
  • Does your jaw hurt when you yawn, chew, or open your mouth?
  • Is it hard for you to open the mouth fully?
  • Do you have buzzing, roaring, ringing, or hissing noises in the ears?
  • Are your jaw muscles feeling tender?
  • Does it feel as if your jaw is stuck open or closed?
  • Are you sensing pain around the ear area?
  • Do you feel pain in the neck, shoulder, face, or more than one tooth?
  • Are your ears feeling stuffy or itchy?
  • Do you have ear pain that is not due to an infection?

If you answered NO to most of these questions, it might mean your pain is due to another condition.

What is The Best Care for TMJ Disorder?

You have several options. The best comes down to your jaw’s reaction to care. There are cases where surgical options can care for TMD. However, before taking this irreversible option, be aware that there are natural ways to naturally care for your TMJ. 

  • Choose A Soft Diet

Keep from eating brittle, hard, or chewy types of food such as steak and bagels. Instead, go for fish, rice, and oatmeal.

  • Use Ice Packs or Warm Compress 

Using these can help to relax your jaw muscles and also lessen inflammation. A warm compress helps soothe pain and improves blood circulation. 

  • Perform TMJ Exercises

Doing a series of facial and jaw exercises can help improve your jaw joints’ movement and relieve TMJ pain.

  • Avoid Overusing or Overextending Your Jaw

Try to avoid yawning too long, opening your mouth too wide, or chewing gum.

TMD May Stem From Neck Problem

A clinical study monitored 89 TMD patients. A high number of these patients recounted experiencing some injury before the onset of their TMD. It demonstrated that there is a connection between head or neck trauma and the emergence of TMD. A misalignment in the upper cervical spine or neck can adversely affect the neck and jaw muscles, resulting in TMD. Finally, by correcting this misalignment, TMD symptoms like swelling, pain, limited range of motion, and numbness can altogether stop. 

It’s no coincidence that many people who are suffering from TMD experience neck pain. Although this may not be the case for you, there is still a high possibility that the TMD pain is due to a misalignment in your neck’s top bones, particularly the C1 (atlas) and C2 (axis) vertebrae. There are also cases where a prior injury, accident, or trauma is the cause of this misalignment. Misalignment or subluxation in the upper cervical spine can transpire even if the accident happened several years in the past. 

Upper cervical chiropractors are highly experienced and skilled in locating these misalignments in the upper cervical spine. Our method in correcting these misalignments is precise and gentle. We encourage the misaligned bones to move back into their proper positions accurately and with the softest force. 

Find an upper cervical chiropractor nearest you today.

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The content and materials provided in this web site are for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended to supplement or comprise a medical diagnosis or other professional opinion, or to be used in lieu of a consultation with a physician or competent health care professional for medical diagnosis and/or treatment. All content and materials including research papers, case studies and testimonials summarizing patients' responses to care are intended for educational purposes only and do not imply a guarantee of benefit. Individual results may vary, depending upon several factors including age of the patient, severity of the condition, severity of the spinal injury, and duration of time the condition has been present.