human body is capable of handling and adapting to the environmental and genetic stressors it encounters every day. It can withstand pain and compensate for the disturbances it experience regularly.
This is why some discomfort, such as a regular jaw joint pain, is often ignored. You might think it’s normal to experience difficulty in closing and opening your jaw, and you might find it painful to chew your food or to talk as often as before. It’s easy to just pop a pain reliever when encountering these conditions, but it’s highly possible that there’s an underlying cause.
If it’s happening for a long time and more frequently, it’s probably time to check have it checked because it may not be a simple jaw joint pain. It could be a Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJD), which occurs when the hinge connecting the upper and lower jaw dysfunctions. This causes the jaw to misalign and prevents the muscles, ligaments, bones, and disc from functioning properly.
Once you encounter the following symptoms, it’s high time to visit the doctor.
The jaw gets “locked” out
Don’t be surprised when you suddenly cannot open fully your mouth or jaw or it’s suddenly locked in a wide open position. Though it’s only temporary, TMJD can hinder you from closing or opening your mouth properly. It’s usually harmless, but it causes discomfort nevertheless.
Commonly referred to as lockjaw, this occurs due to the inflammation of the soft tissues in the mouth. Though tetanus is one of the most common causes of lockjaw, TMJD is also a likely culprit.
Your daily functions are already affected
Since the opening and closing of the jaw are limited, the disorder can affect your daily functions, such as eating, talking and even yawning. Forcing it can only cause more damage, as you cannot simply force your jaw to open wider than it could.
Prolonged chewing and talking are enough to cause fatigue of the jaw muscles.
You experience ringing in the ears
It’s common to experience tinnitus, or ringing in the ears, upon being exposed to loud noises such as concerts or explosions. But if it’s something you experience on a regular basis, it could be connected to TMJD since the jaw is located near the ears.
Aside from a high-pitched ringing, tinnitus can also be a buzzing, humming, or hissing sound. In worse cases, TMJD left untreated can cause tinnitus that can last for weeks or months.
Other ear-related symptoms are the feeling of stuffiness in the ears and hearing difficulties.
Your headaches occur more frequently
TMJD-related headaches are often left undiagnosed since there is no clear differentiation from other types of headaches. However, TMJD patients often say that the headaches they experience are similar to migraines, in which the pain is felt on the side of the head or behind the eyes. If you’re experiencing severe headaches along with other symptoms mentioned above, it’s best to consult your doctor.
These symptoms can manifest one by one, because while the body can adapt to it, the signs will not be easily visible. But once it reaches its limits, you yourself will feel that it’s probably time to make an appointment with a dentist specializing in TMJD.