We have two Temporomandibular joints (TMJ) which are located on either side of the jaw and connect the jawbone to the skull. They act as a hinge allowing you to chew, speak and yawn. However, for those who have misaligned teeth, an improper bite or arthritis, disorders of these joints can lead to further issues.
Symptoms of TMJ disorders include pain, popping noises within the jaw and being unable to open the mouth. However, a few more symptoms of TMJ disorder are less known.
The proximity of the TMJ to the ears mean disorders of these joints can result in ear ache and ear infections. Some people experience tinnitus or a feeling of fullness within the ear. Dizziness is also another possible symptom of TMJ. This is due to inflammation in the muscles and connecting tissue supporting the jaw which may affect the inner ear.
The temporomandibular joints are also located close to the trigeminal nerve. This nerve is linked to your vision and therefore any inflammation from a TMJ disorder can result in vision issues in one or both eyes. This can include a feeling of pressure behind the eyes, blurred or tired eyes and sensitivity to light.
Though not a common issue, a pinched trigeminal nerve from inflammation can also lead to tingling and numbness in the legs and arms, or possibly limbs which ache or feel weak.
Head and neck pain
TMJ disorders can also affect your neck, shoulders and upper back. This can be caused through the increased muscle tension induced by the disorder. This may be compounded by your posture as you try to find a way to reduce any jaw pain or discomfort resulting from TMJ disorders. You may not realise it, but you could be holding your head and neck in a position which is not a natural one. So in attempting to alleviate one source of discomfort you could be creating another.
The important point to remember is TMJ disorders are treatable. By booking an appointment with your dentist if you think you have symptoms of a TMJ disorder you can have the cause of the disorder evaluated and a treatment plan recommended. Pain from TMJ disorders is largely temporary providing you seek the advice of an experienced professional dentist.