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How Do You Know If You Have TMJ Disorder or Something Else?

August 31, 2023
How Do You Know If You Have TMJ Disorder or Something Else?

TMJ disorder results from a problem with the temporomandibular joints, which are located on either side of your face and connect your jawbone to your skull. These joints function as sliding hinges as you open or close your mouth. They are complex joints, and moving your mouth can be painful and even difficult when the hinges don't work smoothly.

But how do you know if you have TMJ disorder or something else? TMJ disorder symptoms can be similar to other concerning health conditions. Seeing a dental or other healthcare provider is in your best interest to receive a diagnosis and an appropriate treatment plan.

Symptoms of TMJ Disorder

Persistent pain in your jaw when eating, drinking, speaking, smiling, or laughing is one of the most common symptoms of TMJ disorder. The following symptoms are also associated with TMJ disorder:

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Difficulty with balance
  • Upper back and neck pain
  • Finger tingling or numbness
  • Clicking or popping sounds while opening and closing your jaw or chewing
  • Frequent dental problems like pain, abnormal wear, chips, or cracks
  • Facial pain
  • Earaches
  • Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
  • A feeling of fullness in the ears

TMJ disorder can present differently in different people. For instance, you may only experience jaw pain, whereas another patient may experience all these symptoms.

Conditions Similar to TMJ Disorder

The following conditions may show some similarities but also some differences when compared to TMJ disorder. It's essential to consult with a knowledgeable dentist or other medical provider to determine if you have TMJ or another condition.

Cluster, Migraine, or Tension Headaches

While people commonly feel headaches in their forehead, certain types like migraine, chronic cluster, or tension headaches can also originate from the sides of the face and temples, radiating outward, mimicking symptoms of TMJ disorder headaches.

Trigeminal Neuralgia

Trigeminal neuralgia happens when the trigeminal nerves, responsible for transmitting sensations from the face to the brain, become irritated for some reason. Symptoms include:

  • Pain in the teeth, face, and around the ear
  • Numbness or tingling, typically affecting only one side of the face

Trigeminal neuralgia is often characterized by a shooting pain resembling an electric shock.

Sinus Issues

Headaches and pain around the temples can be common in both TMJ disorder and chronic sinus pain or sinus infections. However, chronic sinus problems may be associated with allergies or structural sinus issues, and infections may cause additional symptoms like nasal discharge, watery eyes, or fever.

Other Causes of Jaw and Facial Pain

Various other conditions, including an abscessed tooth, facial trauma, or herpes zoster (commonly called shingles), can cause pain similar to TMJ disorder symptoms.

Are You Experiencing TMJ Disorder Symptoms? Contact Greater Essex Dental Today

TMJ disorder is painful and debilitating and can negatively impact your quality of life. If you are experiencing symptoms of TMJ or another disorder, make an appointment with our office as soon as possible. 

We can provide thorough TMJ disorder assessments and create effective treatment plans to help you start feeling better. Call our office at 978-346-4610 or contact us to schedule a consultation and examination.


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Merrimac, MA 01860
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