Less Obvious Symptoms of TMJ Disorder

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Less Obvious Symptoms of TMJ Disorder

The most well-known sign of TMJ disorder is a popping or clicking of the jaw. An inability to open or close the jaw may also be a common symptom. However, TMJ dysfunction can manifest differently for patients, so you may not experience these tell-tale signs. Furthermore, the origin of pain can be difficult to pinpoint. We’ve discussed headaches as a potentially misleading symptom of TMJ problems (who doesn’t get headaches sometimes?) but there are some other less-common symptoms patients should be aware of.

Do you suspect something may be off in your bite alignment? Visit our dental office for Grant Park TMJ treatment and a proper diagnosis. There are many ways to treat TMJ and Dr. Abbey Lee can help you get relief.

Mysterious Ear Problems

Have you had painful sensations in or behind the ear when no infection or ear problem is present? Maybe you’ve had occasional ringing in the ear (tinnitus) or vertigo? Put your finger on your temporomandibular joint, and you’ll probably be touching your ear, as well. Hearing and jaw function may seem unrelated, but they are in such close proximity that mechanical problems in one can “bump into” nearby structures. The movement of the jaw can easily affect the ear’s ability to function normally.

For example, there is a ligament that connects the jaw to the bones of the middle ear. If the jaw is not opening and closing smoothly, this connection can affect the inner ear and cause tinnitus. Ringing in the ears is usually caused by age or hearing loss, so you might not consider the possibility of a TMJ connection if this is your only symptom at the time. As part of the vestibular system, the inner ear also controls our ability to balance. When disrupted by nearby jaw dysfunction, it may send incorrect signals to the brain that make you feel dizzy. TMJ problems may also cause earaches or a feeling that the ears are clogged.


For some patients, TMJ disorder can be most acute and most symptomatic when we are actively using the jaw. If your bite is not properly aligning when you chew, this can put stress on certain teeth or their roots. You may feel this as a toothache, even if you’ve been told your teeth are free from decay. Some patients may even feel phantom throbbing in a specific tooth, even when the jaw is at rest.

Nerve Pain and Neurological Conditions

Pain in the jaw, neck and head are common symptoms of TMJ disorder. An improperly functioning jaw can cause muscle fatigue, tension, and spasms because the muscles of the head, neck and facial muscles all work together. In a subconscious effort to relieve that pain, however, patients sometimes change the position in which they hold their head.

Tilting the head or tipping the head at an unusual angle may release some tension, but it can lead to new problems. The head and neck need proper alignment for all our nerve pathways to remain open through spinal cord. There is a right way and a wrong way to hold the head in relation to the spinal column and cervical vertebrae. With incorrect spinal alignment, you may be blocking nerve pathways and wind up with numbness, nerve pain, or even neurological symptoms that may seem completely unrelated to the jaw.

Grant Park TMJ Treatment

There are many ways to give you relief from your TMJ symptoms. Since TMJ disorder looks and feels different for everyone, all treatment should be based on a proper examination and consultation with Dr. Lee. Visit our office, and we will discuss your symptoms, analyze your bite, and take 3-dimensional scans of your jaw. We may recommend splint therapy, TENS therapy, injections to relax muscles, orthodontic treatments, or something else entirely. Call 404-328-7177 to set up an appointment and learn more about Grant Park TMJ Treatment.

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