A Guide to TMJ Symptoms: Recognizing the Signs of Jaw Disorders

A Guide to TMJ Symptoms: Recognizing the Signs of Jaw Disorders

Pain, mild or severe, in any part of your body inevitably causes discomfort. However, when it afflicts your jaw or face, it often induces panic and distress, especially when you don’t know its cause. Generally, facial pain originates in the temporomandibular joints. These joints act like hinges, connecting the lower jaw to the skull. When jaw pain occurs, it is often accompanied by sensations like ringing in your ears or headaches. Such symptoms are related to temporomandibular or TMJ disorders.

TMJ disorders affect the muscles, nerves, and joints surrounding the jaw. Teeth grinding, arthritis, and jaw injuries are some of the causes of TMJ disorders, which lead to jaw muscle dysfunction and impact normal jaw movement.

Nevertheless, there is no need to worry as effective treatments are available. You must recognize the earliest signs of jaw disorders to benefit from the treatments, which we will discuss in this blog.

What Do You Mean by TMJ Dysfunction?

TMJ dysfunctions (TMD) occur when the muscles and ligaments surrounding your jaw joints are impacted. Under such conditions, you can experience headaches and difficulty opening or closing your mouth.

Signs and Symptoms of TMJ Disorders

The easiest way to understand that you’re experiencing a TMJ disorder and you need to consult a maxillofacial surgeon is when you are aware of the signs and symptoms, which include:

  • Pain in your jaw
  • Both your temporomandibular joints hurt
  • Pain in and around your ear
  • Facial pain
  • Neck and shoulder pain
  • Stiffness in your jaw
  • Migraines
  • Toothache
  • Difficulty in opening or closing the mouth

What are the Causes of TMJ Disorders?

Identifying the root cause of TMJ disorder can be difficult. Pain from such a condition can be due to factors like jaw injury or genetics. For instance, some people who grind or clench their teeth have jaw pain.

Some of the factors that contribute to TMJ disorders include:

  • Broken, dislocated, or other types of jaw injuries
  • Arthritis in the jaw joint
  • Stress
  • The inability of your teeth to fit together as they should typically (referred to as ‘Malocclusion’)
  • Teeth clenching or grinding

Things that Worsen TMJ Disorders

As discussed, TMJ disorders are often the result of various factors combined. It’s not always possible to control such factors. However, some actions are known to worsen the condition further. These are:

  • Chewing pens, pencils, or other objects out of nervousness
  • Tearing a packet or tag with your teeth (instead of using a pair of scissors)
  • Incorrect posture, exerting unnecessary pressure on your facial muscles, neck, and shoulders
  • Sleeping on your stomach
  • Consuming chewing gum excessively
  • Overworking your jaw muscles by biting your food in large portions

How are TMJ Disorders Treated?

If you’re experiencing most of the symptoms related to TMJ disorders, it is advisable to consult an experienced maxillofacial surgeon. Upon your visit, they will:

  • Ask you to open and close your mouth to determine your range of motion
  • Evaluate the areas of discomfort by pressing your face
  • Touch your jaw joints gently as you open or close your mouth

They may also perform imaging tests to examine your jaw joints closely to help determine the most effective treatment.

After the initial assessment, the best TMJ disorder treatment for you will be determined based on factors like:

  • Age
  • Medical history and overall health
  • Any reaction to medicines or procedures

Maxillofacial surgeons generally recommend noninvasive treatment options, such as prescribing medications to alleviate symptoms. These medications can range from pain relievers to muscle relaxers and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. In severe cases, surgical procedures may be the best possible solution.

Other noninvasive treatments besides medications include:

Surgical Procedures for TMJ Disorders

Surgery is generally the last resort only if:

  • Other treatments are proven ineffective
  • Your jaw joint has severe structural problems
  • Despite non-surgical treatments, the pain is continuing to worsen
  • You’re unable to open or close your mouth and chew food due to extreme pain

If such is the situation, your surgeon may recommend surgical procedures like:

  • Arthrocentesis
  • TMJ arthroscopy
  • Open-joint surgery

Helpful Self-Care Tips for TMJ

With these steps, you will find relief in your TMJ symptoms:

  • Avoid hard-to-chew foods
  • Take small bites when eating
  • Be mindful of your posture
  • Don’t move your jaws unnecessarily, like chewing a gum or when singing
  • You can place cold packs on your jaw as frequently as possible
  • Keep yourself relaxed


Experiencing TMJ disorders can undoubtedly be stressful as it impacts your daily routine. Simple daily tasks like talking, eating, or even working are often hampered. If you’re dealing with the TMJ disorder symptoms as discussed above, it is crucial to avail medical intervention at the earliest. 

At Gnathos Facial our expert and licensed maxillofacial surgeons are well-trained to treat patients with diseases, injuries, or abnormalities afflicting the head, neck, face, jaws, and mouth. We are a NABH-accredited maxillofacial centre in Hyderabad with 20+ years of experience in offering state-of-the-art treatments. Contact us today!

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