Temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ or TMD) can be treatable for many people. However, the treatment success is much better if you get treatment from a Columbus TMJ dentist early. Unfortunately, many people don’t get their TMJ treated early.

Why don’t people seek treatment early? Because some early symptoms may not seem serious, people have a tendency to ignore them until they become very serious.

Here are some symptoms you might be ignoring that should prompt you to get treatment for your TMJ in Columbus.

Common TMJ Symptoms

TMJ causes many symptoms. These symptoms are so variable and spaced throughout the body you might not realize that they’re connected to your jaw–or to each other. This can make it hard to diagnose TMJ, especially for your doctor, who might not know about the condition. Some common TMJ symptoms include:

  • Migraines and other headaches
  • Jaw pain
  • Clicking or popping sound in the jaw
  • Locking of the jaw joint
  • Limited jaw mobility
  • Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
  • Earaches
  • Dizziness
  • Balance issues
  • Uneven bite
  • Facial pain
  • Neck pain
  • Shoulder pain
  • Back pain
  • Facial swelling
  • Numbness in the fingers and arms
  • Difficulty chewing or swallowing

If you experience more than one of the above symptoms, consider seeking help from a Columbus TMJ dentist who can link your symptoms together and treat them effectively. We’ll focus on some of these symptoms that might signal more serious TMJ.

Migraines and Other Headaches

Headaches are very common with TMJ. The most common types of headaches people experience with TMJ are tension headaches and migraines. These headaches can be a serious problem for people with TMJ because they can be both common and disabling. Migraines are responsible for both missed workdays and lost productivity, as well as a considerably reduced quality of life.

Migraines are of particular concern because they could be a sign that your TMJ could be contributing to the development of chronic overlapping pain conditions (COPC). COPC can affect all parts of the body, and once they develop they can be hard to treat.

If you have regular headaches, it’s a good idea to talk to a Columbus TMJ dentist about your headaches and other symptoms.

Jaw Clicking or Popping

adult man holding his ear in painIt’s easy to think jaw clicking or popping isn’t a very serious problem. It happens, but it may not be especially painful–especially the more it happens–and your jaw keeps functioning, so you might ignore the symptom. For some people, this always occurs, but others experience it only when opening their mouths wide.

But this is a sign that your TMJ could be serious. The popping and clicking are caused by the displacement of the cushioning disc in the jaw joint. When that disc is moved out of place, the bones don’t have the cushion necessary to protect them during normal function. Instead, the ligament that’s supposed to hold the disc in place is being subjected to damaging pressure, which means it may lose its ability to pull the disc back in place, which will lead to more bone damage.

Responding to this symptom early means that you will protect your jaw joints from too much damage and may be able to avoid treatments like surgery.

You also want to talk to a Columbus TMJ dentist if your clicking or popping stops. This may be a sign that your disc isn’t going back in place, and it may lead to your jaw locking.

Limited Jaw Opening

People have a tendency to ignore this symptom if it’s not too bad. If you can manage to open your jaw wide enough to speak at a normal volume and eat, then you might think it’s not a big deal. But it can be.

This is another symptom caused by the displacement of the cushioning disc. It may occur after the clicking or popping has stopped. And it’s often a sign that your jaw will start locking.

Jaw locking is a serious symptom that doesn’t just make people panic, it may be a sign that your joints have become badly damaged. Don’t try to force your jaw joint, as this could injure your jaw further. Instead, seek help from a Columbus TMJ dentist who knows how to safely ease your jaw open or closed.

Tooth Wear

Tooth wear can be insidious. It might happen a little bit at the time, making it hard to notice. But, over time, you might be able to tell that your central incisors are losing their additional length, becoming even with the lateral incisors. You may also notice that some of your teeth are developing craze lines: tiny vertical cracks that seem harmless at first but can become problematic.

Many people ignore tooth wear because they don’t notice it or imagine it’s common. Tooth wear is common, but TMJ-related tooth wear can be serious. And it can change dramatically: one day you’ll have minor tooth wear, and the next you might experience serious cracking and chipping of teeth.

As this progresses, it increases the chances that you might need a full mouth reconstruction for your teeth.

Vertigo, Dizziness, and Loss of Balance

TMJ can cause balance issues. Your inner ear is one of the key tools your body uses to maintain its balance, and the jaw is closely connected to your ear. It’s not just that the temporal bone of the skull which houses the inner ear is part of the temporomandibular joint. Some of the bones in the ear have an evolutionary legacy as jawbones and retain many connections with the jaw. In addition, the nerves leading from your ear thread near and even through muscles, tendons, and other jaw structures. This means that many people with TMJ develop vertigo and loss of balance.

Unlike many sources of vertigo and loss of balance, TMJ treatment in Columbus is highly effective at helping you avoid dizziness and imbalance.

Don’t Ignore TMJ Symptoms in Columbus, OH

TMJ can be serious, but it’s also treatable, especially when we catch it early.  Don’t wait until the symptoms become so serious that you have to seek treatment. With early treatment, you may be able to avoid serious symptoms.

If you are looking for a TMJ dentist in Columbus, OH please call (614) 848-5001 today for an appointment with Dr. Mike Firouzian at Firouzian Dentistry.