Because of the broad spectrum of symptoms associated with TMJ Disorder, it is often referred to as the “great imposter.” While there are many symptoms of TMJ Disorder, many patients do not associate their discomfort and pain with TMJ Disorder and are often left undiagnosed. Referred pain from the temporomandibular joint and muscles can mimic ear or sinus infections, and cause pain in the head, neck, shoulders, back, or eyes. Some of the most common symptoms are the following:
- Pain in or around the ear, often spreading to the face
- Tenderness of the jaw muscles
- Clicking or popping noise when one opens or closes the mouth
- Difficulty in opening one’s mouth
- Jaws that “get stuck,” “lock,” or “go out”
- Pain brought on by yawning, chewing, or opening the mouth widely
- Headaches or neck aches; especially disabling pain in the neck and base of the skull
- Ringing or stuffiness in the ears, or inner ear problems
- Dizziness, vertigo, or balance problems
- Increased nervousness
- Gross fatigue, aggravated by pain-induced sleep disorders
- Dementia; which appears to be aggravated by a bad bite and resultant improper brain function
Some treatments for TMD include muscle relaxants, aspirin, biofeedback, or wearing a small plastic appliance in the mouth during sleep.
Minor cases of TMD involve discomfort or pain in the jaw muscles. More serious conditions involve improperly aligned joints or dislocated jaws. The most extreme form of TMD involves an arthritic condition of the jaw joint. Traumatic injuries also can cause jaw dislocation.
In these cases, jaw surgery may be required to correct the condition. Some jaw surgery can be performed arthroscopically.