How Do I Know if I Have TMJD (Temporomandibular Joint Disorder)?

TMJD is inflammation or pain in one or both of the joints connecting the jawbone and the skull. The symptoms and causes are often complex, and the disorder affects people differently, causing a range of symptoms.

Common Symptomsheadache - TMJ - Pixabay public domain free commercial use

Among the most commonly reported symptoms are:

  • Pain in your jaw, in your face, or around your ear. The pain may occur only when your jaw is moving. It can, however, be constant and not tied to joint movement.
  • Inability or difficulty opening your mouth completely.
  • "Clicking" or popping in your jaw.
  • Your jaw becomes "locked," which makes it difficult to open or close your mouth.
  • Headache.
  • Uncomfortable bite (often because one or more of your teeth make contact with other teeth before all of your teeth make contact.

Causes and Contributing Factors

Your dentist will be able to diagnose TMJD and to help you understand the cause of the disorder in you. Causes and contributing factors in the development of TMJD include:

  • Anything that causes pain in other joints can also contribute to the development of TMJD.
  • Wear and tear on the cartilage covering the ends of the bones in the joint.
  • Arthritis.
  • Injuries and dislocations.
  • Abnormalities in the joint, including damage to the disc that separates the two bones.
  • Dental problems, infections, or tumors.
  • Damage to teeth.
  • Missing teeth, causing mis-alignment of the upper and lower jaw.
  • Overuse of chewing muscles, due to chewing gum continually, biting fingernails or pencils, biting the cheek or lip, extending the jaw when speaking, exercising or other actions.
  • Erosion or slipping of the disc from its proper position.

If you think you might have TMJD, contact your dentist immediately. Diagnosis is usually painless. Once your dentist determines the cause of the disorder, there are several effective treatments.

The sooner you seek diagnosis and treatment, the better your dentist's opportunity to intervene in time to limit the pain and damage from the disorder.