Struggling with TMJ symptoms for years without proper diagnosis seems like a common story for many sufferers. The disorder is often complex, and symptoms can vary widely from patient to patient. While one patient may complain of typical symptoms like jaw pain, another patient may experience persistent ringing in the ears, tingling in the fingers, or even vertigo. Symptoms like these can often seem unrelated or part of everyday life, and, especially if we’re busy, we can sometimes default to a “I’ll talk with someone if it gets worse” action plan.

Unfortunately with TMJ, the longer you wait, the more severe symptoms can become and the more difficult they are to treat. So if you want to stay on top of your jaw health, it’s best to check in whenever you can.

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Symptoms to Watch for

According to the National Institute of Craniofacial Research, an estimated ten million Americans suffer from TMJ. The disorder generally occurs when the joint regulating your jaw becomes misaligned due to trauma or other factors. Because this joint handles a wide range of duties, it can create a number of problems in the head, neck, and back when it begins to malfunction.

This can cause a variety of symptoms. Jaw pain, popping or clicking noises when you open your mouth, or reduced mobility in your jaw are among the most common. If you experience tooth-grinding, also referred to as bruxism, this could key you into a jaw disturbance, but there are plenty of symptoms that go beyond the jaw.

The location of the  temporomandibular joint right underneath the ear canal creates a number of ear-related symptoms when something goes wrong. Ringing in the ears, also known as tinnitus, can be another sign that your TMJ has begun to advance. The relationship between the jaw and the inner ear is a complicated one, and the systems which govern balance can also be affected, which is why many TMJ sufferers experience vertigo and dizziness as well.

Self-Diagnosis vs. Professional Diagnosis and Treatment

Be honest with yourself when trying to determine your own TMJ symptoms. While tinnitus, vertigo and dizziness, or tingling fingers can be symptoms of many different disorders, when accompanied by jaw pain or tightness, you should schedule an appointment with your dentist, seeking treatment.

Seeking treatment early can help you to avoid more severe symptoms later on. Your dentist can provide several different treatment options based on your specific case, many of which are drug-free. One of the most common forms of treatment is a bite splint, which is similar to a mouth guard. This will help your jaw retain the correct position while you sleep, helping it to begin the healing process. The mouth guard can also help to protect your teeth from grinding during the night.

Dr. Adam Hahn is an expert at explaining TMJ in plain, straightforward language. To talk to him about TMJ, please call (803) 781-9090 or contact Smile Columbia Dentistry in Columbia, SC today for an appointment.