TMJ pain has been reported in 1 in 10 people, and TMD has been reported in almost half of the
population. It is one of the most common complaints dental practices encounter, and is mostly
caused due to malocclusion. Malocclusions is the imperfect positioning of the teeth when the jaws
are closed. This imperfect positioning changes the relationship of the mandible to the cranium
causing a person to suffer from head, face, neck, shoulder and back pain. Some people can also
suffer from subjective hearing loss, ringing in the ears, dizziness, pain in the ear and the feeling of
pressure in the ear.
So let's take a look at how it is all connected.
As one of the complex joints in the body, TMJ along with several muscles allows the mandible to
move up and down, side to side and forward & back. Thus, it is only when the mandible and joints
are aligned, would actions like chewing, talking, yawning, and swallowing become easy and
However, when these structures, i.e. the muscles, ligaments, disk, jawbones and teeth are not
aligned or synchronised, a TMJ disorder (TMD) may occur.
1) What does TMJ pain feel like?
In TMJ, when you open your mouth to chew, you may hear a clicking/popping sound or
experience a painful sensation at many instances and sometimes there is no pain. The pain in
TMJ can also radiate towards the head, causing headaches. An individual might feel tenderness
and swelling in the jaw joints, pain through the neck and shoulders.
Other TMJ pain includes:
Pain or exhaustion within facial muscles
Swelling on either side of the face
Pain in or around the ear and behind the eyes
Pain or discomfort while chewing
Stiffness and pain around the neck and shoulders
Difficulty opening or closing the mouth, also known as locked jaw
Tinnitus i.e. ringing in the ears
Headaches on the sides and back of the head
2) Common Symptoms of TMJ disorder
Are you struggling with headaches and migraines? It could be one of the symptoms of TMJ
disorder. TMJ disorder could be a result of teeth clenching and grinding, mouth breathing,
snoring, sleep apnea, incorrect posture, physical injury, arthritis, malocclusions and improper
bite, tongueties, anxiety, stress, or narrow airways.
It might come as a surprise, but the eyes, mouth, throat, ears, neck, and jaw are all associated
with TMJ disorder. The primary symptoms of Temporo Mandibular Joint Disorder (TMD) are
facial pain and headaches, which are quite self-explanatory.
However, there are certain symptoms that are not as apparent, such as ringing in the ears,
vertigo, anxiety, sleep disorders, and chronic neck and back pain. It is due to these symptoms
that patients with TMD might be misdiagnosed with psychosomatic disorder.
TMD = The Great Impostor Disease