TMJ Disorder Signs and Symptoms

TMJ disorder happens when the jaw joints shift out of place. The temporomandibular joints (TMJ) are the muscles and joints of the jaw that make opening and closing the mouth possible. The joints are located on both sides of the head. The system consists of a disc between the ball and socket joint. This disc pads the load while allowing the jaw to open, rotate or glide. Any issue that prevents this intricate system of ligaments, muscles, disc and bones from functioning properly is considered as TMJ disorder.

Signs of TMJ disorder

The following are signs of TMJ disorders:

TMJ Pain

Pain is the most common symptom experienced by patients. The discomfort is usually felt in the masticatory muscles, but it can also happen in the TMJ or both. The patient may suffer pain even when the jaw is not moving. The intensity of the pain can vary from mild to severe, and may last a few minutes or recurrently. Some people may experience several episodes over several weeks or month. In some cases, the pain eventually subsides, but in others, it could continue for years.

TMJ sounds

TMJ disorder may cause clicking, popping or mild crunching sounds when the jaw moves. This may not necessarily mean that TMJ treatment is needed, but the clicking and popping sound often means that the articular disc is displaced. The sounds typically depend on the structural setup of the joint. This means that some people may have TMJ noises without experiencing pain. For instance, the crunching sound called crepitus is usually caused by a current or past arthritic incident in the TMJ.

Restriction in jaw opening

Difficulty when opening the jaw wide is a common sign of TMJ disorder in patients, according to many clinical findings. Such restriction when opening the jaw is sometimes caused by muscle hyperactivity or strain that inhibits a patient from stretching their jaw all the way. When doctors measure the opening length, they add the incisal vertical overlap to the incisal-edge-to-incisal edge dimension — 40mm is regarded as the lowest standard length for an adult of an average physique. In rare cases, restrictions in opening the jaw could be caused by the displacement of the articular disc, which stops the jaw. In such instances, patients often show a deviation to one side when the jaw is open, and TMJ pain is always apparent.

Deviation in opening

A deviation when opening the jaw is usually caused by a displaced disc or muscle tension. The extent of deviation and pattern usually varies.

TMJ catching or locking

Catching or locking in the TMJ may happen when opening or closing the jaw. This could be the result of different situations. Any inhibition of the free movement of the condyle may vary from the temporary catching to a continuous lock. A small percentage of patients who experience TMJ pain often go through a locking incident.

Final note

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of TMJ disorder, it is important that you seek treatment from a dentist to resolve the condition. The treatment is sometimes invasive but generally focuses on relieving pain and discomfort.

Request an appointment here: https://www.petersmrecekdds.com or call Peter T. Smrecek Jr. DDS Inc. at (949) 303-1309 for an appointment in our Newport Beach office.

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