The more well known TMJ becomes, the more familiar we get with its most common symptoms. If you’re eating and experience a loud popping noise or if your jaw spontaneously seizes up when talking, you know these are signs that you need to be treated. Unfortunately, however, TMJ is more complicated.

The temporomandibular joint is a complicated connection between the jaw and the skull, utilizing different muscle groups in the head to function properly. Not only that, but the joint is at a complex intersection of many different systems. Important nerves, tendons, blood vessels, your ears, and, of course, your airway all meet here. What this means is that when your joint doesn’t function properly, it can cause several different symptoms that not every TMJ sufferer experiences. Because of this, it’s possible that many Americans suffering from TMJ don’t even realize they’re a victim.

Here are some surprising symptoms to watch out for.

Tingling Fingers

Soreness in the jaw is what most of us associate with TMJ. People are more likely to associate numb or tingling fingers with carpal tunnel or a sprained wrist. Interestingly enough, the vertical posture of our bodies is incredibly sensitive to any shifts to our equilibrium, and when enough imbalance accrues in the jaw, this could cause our shoulders, neck, and back to become imbalanced as well. Over time, this shift could narrow the already tight areas where nerves weave between your bones. This can lead to tingling and numbness in your fingers.


Tinnitus , more commonly known as a ringing in the ears, can take many forms, including, clicking, buzzing, or roaring. Generally, this phenomenon is considered a symptom and not a disease. What links tinnitus to TMJ is the jaw. The temporomandibular joint connects to the skull just below the ear canals, and any major dysfunction can affect the surrounding structures, such as the ears. If you notice ringing in your ears while chewing or speaking, this could be a sign that your tinnitus is due to TMJ. Ear symptoms are common in TMJ, and also include earaches, feeling of clogged ears, and vertigo or dizziness.

Tension Headaches or Migraines

Tension headaches are one of the most common headaches, accounting for nearly 80 percent. Although they can be as painful as a migraine, they generally have different symptoms. Because TMJ is an imbalance of your jaw joint, the resulting muscle tension can trigger one of these headaches. Tension headaches can in turn trigger a migraine.

A recent study conducted at the University of Buffalo School of Dental Medicine found that many headaches related to TMJ are misdiagnosed or misunderstood. Migraines are one of the biggest culprits of this, as the exact mechanism of migraines is largely misunderstood. We understand that the trigeminal nerve plays a critical role in migraines. This is thought to be one of the most important links to TMJ, which can overstimulate your trigeminal nerve or put pressure on branches of the nerve.

Even if you haven’t experienced the common symptoms of TMJ, that doesn’t mean you’re not a victim. Symptoms related to tingling fingers, vertigo, facial and neck pain, could all be signs that you should schedule an appointment . TMJ is a degenerative disorder that could cause permanent damage if left untreated.

To schedule your TMJ evaluation in Columbia, SC today, please call (803) 781-9090 or email Smile Columbia Dentistry for an appointment with a TMJ dentist.