The temporomandibular joint is an extremely mobile joint that can be subject to stress and injury due to a number of different reasons. A normal functioning TMJ is required not just for chewing food but also for speaking and many other purposes.
At times when the TMJ is not functioning properly, patients can experience a number of different symptoms that can be rather debilitating and difficult to manage. It is at this point in time that they seek help from a trained professional so that they can restore complete movement of the jaw and also rid themselves of pain.
The symptoms that patients can experience due to TMJ disorders are variable. Some of the common ones include –
1. Difficulty or discomfort when biting and chewing
Biting or chewing food requires constant movement of the TMJ. When inserting food in the mouth, the jaw has to open wide in order to accommodate the portion being ingested. If there has been damage to the TMJ, it can cause difficulty in opening the jaw and this can be rather painful. There have been instances where individuals have attempted to either live through the pain or not bother with it too much, which in turn has resulted in them losing weight as they eat small amounts of food.
In the event that an individual develops difficulty when biting or chewing food, it is important to see a registered dental practitioner for further management.
2. Clicking of the jaw
In TMJ disorders, opening the mouth wide can cause a clicking sound over the TMJ. This is often accompanied by a degree of discomfort and pain. Some people have described this as a ‘grating’ sound or a ‘popping’ sound.
3. Earache and headache
Many a times, the pain from the TMJ can radiate through nerve fibres into the ear and up to the head. Patients experience this as earache and headache which can be rather distressing. Simple painkillers may help but until the TMJ problem is treated, the symptoms can recur.
Other than just earache and headache, patients may experience tenderness around the jaw area extending all the way to the neck and shoulders.
4. Locking of the jaw
This is a situation where the individual who has a TMJ disorder may find it difficult to either open their jaw fully or close their jaw completely. The primary problem here lies in the cartilage within the TMJ which may have eroded due to a disease process or overuse. Such patients will require urgent review at a dental practice so that the joint function is restored and the pain relieved.
5. Swelling of the face
The inflammation that accompanies TMJ disorders can sometimes cause swelling of the soft tissues around the joint.
The TMJ is another most commonly used joints in the body that is under constant stress and strain. Different pathological conditions along with overuse can cause damage to the joint which can result in a variety of symptoms. In the event of occurrence of the symptoms, it is important for the patient to seek help from an expert dental practitioner.