TMD Symptoms, Causes, and Diagnosis

Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) problems can have many causes or triggers, and a wide spectrum of symptoms. Although it’s often impossible to identify a single origin of TMJ issues, these disorders are most common among women between the ages of 30 and 50 and may be related to stress tension, poor posture, or dental issues like damaged teeth or an overbite.

The most common symptom of TMD is chronic headaches, but there are numerous other symptoms that can help your doctor or dentist to correctly diagnose the condition and ensure that you’ll receive the proper treatment.

TMD symptoms

Most patients with TMJ will experience migraine headaches, which are often treated by a prescription that may relieve the pain but doesn’t address the primary cause of the problem. Other TMD symptoms include:

  • Jaw, face, neck, and shoulder pain
  • Headaches of varying intensity, especially in the area around the temples
  • Popping, clicking, or grating noises in the jaw joint
  • Deep jaw pain
  • Difficulty opening your mouth or manipulating the jaw from side to side

As a result of TMJ problems, you may also experience secondary problems including poor posture, sleep disorders, depression, tooth grinding, or the unexpected failure of previous dental work.

Causes of TMJ disorder

TMD can be triggered by something as simple as subtle tooth pain that causes you to bite or chew your food differently, or it can begin with back injuries or stress-related tension that pulls on the neck and jaw. Even an old habit like chewing on the end of your pencil can be the origin of a TMJ disorder. Experts can help you explore and identify habits which may be contributing to your condition.

There are many possible causes of TMJ, such as:

  • Poor bite alignment
  • Chronic clenching or grinding, especially during sleep
  • A trauma, accident, or injury to the neck, jaw, or head
  • A chronic illness, such as lupus, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, sleep disorders, or rheumatoid arthritis
  • Dislocation of TM discs
  • Malformations of the face, neck, or jaw
  • Extensive dental work or anesthetics that put stress on TM joints

TMJ may originate with any of the above, but it can also occur without one of these obvious causes or be caused by a combination of factors.

TMD diagnosis

The challenging aspect of identifying TMJ disorders is that the symptoms can manifest for a variety of other reasons. As a result, the first step in diagnosing TMD is ruling out other medical and dental problems.

We will:

  • Learn about your oral history and habits
  • Have x-rays made of your teeth and jaw
  • Get a thorough exam of your teeth, jaw, bite, and related muscles.

Rely on a current exam from a medical doctor to rule out other problems that may occur in tandem with TMJ or be disguised by TMJ symptoms. You can also ask about treatments like this Durham Dental TMJ and TMD treatment.

If you’re living with TMJ, it can be very difficult to break the cycle of pain and tension to relax the jaw muscles on your own. That’s where TMJ treatment comes in, providing solutions to change habits and relieve the tension in your jaw. To learn more, read our pages about treatment and TMJ questions, or contact a nearby clinic to schedule a consultation with a dentist today.