If you’ve been suffering from facial discomfort and tense jaw pain that’s affecting your daily life, it could be your body’s way of telling you you’re one of the millions of people suffering from TMJ disorder.

See how your symptoms measure up to determine whether you’re suffering from isolated head, jaw, or sinus pain, or if your discomfort is stemming from TMJ.

Common Symptoms of TMJ Disorders

When common daily activities such as eating or talking become uncomfortable as a direct link to experiencing jaw pain, you’ll do anything to find some relief. Your jaw pain may be due to a combination of factors including genetics, arthritis or jaw injury, and jaw pain doesn’t necessarily mean you have a TMJ disorder.

Signs and symptoms of TMJ disorders may include:

  • Pain or tenderness of your jaw, cheeks, ears and neck
  • Pain in one or both of the temporomandibular joints
  • Aching pain in and around your ear
  • Headaches or migraines
  • Difficulty chewing
  • Pain while chewing
  • Aching facial pain
  • Locking of the jaw
  • Difficulty opening and closing your mouth
  • Clicking or grating sound when you use your jaw muscles
  • Tired feeling in the face
  • Change of facial expressions
  • A change in how your lower and upper teeth fit together

How to Check on Your Temporomandibular Joint at Home

If any part of the TMJ system of muscles, tissues, ligaments, and bones dislocates or becomes inflamed, a TMJ disorder can result. You can do a simple self-diagnosis by using this test, suggested by James Friction, DDS, a professor in the division of TMJ disorders and orofacial pain at the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry.

The Test.

While opening your jaw slightly, place a finger over the joint in front of your ear, and then open wide until you can feel the joint move. If you feel the joint click or if it’s tender when you gently press, you may have a temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder.

When to Check in with a Jaw Pain Professional

If you suspect you have TMJ disorder, talk to your primary care physician or your dentist. Either will be able to effectively check for symptoms and help you develop a treatment plan. You may consider visiting a TMJ disorder specialist that is local to you if the problem persists after treatment.

To diagnose and determine the true cause of your discomfort, we will perform the following:

  • Take x-rays of your jaw
  • Gently explore areas around your jaw to pinpoint the source of pain
  • Evaluate the motion of your jaw
  • Examine your bite and check its alignment to see how your teeth come together
  • Listen for sounds that indicate TMJ problems such as clicking

Finding Relief from Jaw Pain

In many cases, the pain and discomfort associated with TMJ disorders is temporary and can be relieved with self-managed care and non-surgical treatments. Since the TMJ is a joint, with tissue and muscle, like any other in the body, the treatments are similar to how you would treat any other inflamed muscle or joint - with rest and relaxation.

Here are a few easy, at-home treatments to find relief from jaw pain:

  • Rest the joint by eating soft foods that require minimum chewing
  • Avoid chewing gum or any other chewy foods
  • Apply ice in the beginning and later heat packs to decrease muscle inflammation
  • Try a different pillow to allow for proper neck support while you sleep
  • Practice jaw exercises to stretch and relax the muscles
  • Over-the-counter pain medications or anti-inflammatories to provide short term relief
  • Practice stress reduction techniques such as meditation or yoga to relax

If you’re experiencing jaw pain or stiffness, Dr. Kim Okamura offers a variety of treatment options, from Botox to splints. Schedule your consultation today and start feeling relief from your constant jaw pain.

Dr. Kim Dr. Kim

Dr. Kim Okamura

I'm Dr. Kim Okamura and this blog is a product of my love of dentistry. I dedicate it to all the patients I have served so that they may better understand my craft. The information here will give you and others the power to maintain and protect one of your most priceless gifts ... your SMILE.