TMJ (temporomandibular joint) injury symptoms are often misdiagnosed with patients referred to a neurologist. Neurologists sometimes fail to diagnose TMJ symptoms and may treat a patient for neck pain for years.
The following symptoms may indicate the presence of a TMJ injury and should be examined by a dentist specializing in TMJ:
- Clicking or popping sound in jaw is the most common indicator of TMJ injury
- Pain while chewing or opening mouth
- Difficulty opening mouth completely
- Locking of jaw
- Pain on the side of your mouth, cheek or jaw
- Pain from loud or high-pitched noise or vibration
- Ringing in ears
- Ear ache
- Neck pain
- Uneven bite after an accident
- Tooth pain caused by an accident could evidence the trauma which can be the cause of TMJ. Alternatively, TMJ pain can make it seem like pain is coming from the tooth when it really is not.
Which Doctors Diagnose and Treat TMJ Injury?
Some general dentists specialize in diagnosing and treating symptoms of the temporomandibular joint. Dental specialists called Oral and maxillofacial surgeons are specially trained for treating problems TMJ.
Treatment of TMJ Injury
Mild TMJ Pain after an Accident
TMJ pain after an accident which is mild enough to be temporary may be successfully treated using the following methods:
- Anti-inflammatory pain medications.
- Applying ice packs within the first 48 hours after an accident or hot packs after 48 hours may also help to reduce inflammation which may be causing the TMJ pain.
- A soft diet and careful and slow chewing,
- Jaw exercises and massaging.
A combination of the above methods may help to relax jaw muscles, reduce joint irritation and end temporary TMJ pain.
TMJ pain can also be caused by tooth clenching. Stress management and use of a mouth guard at night may help alleviate TMJ pain not caused by an accident.
Moderate to Severe TMJ Pain
If TMJ pain doesn’t go away after two weeks, you should consider seeing a dentist or oral maxillofacial surgeon to diagnose and treat your TMJ pain.
Arthroscopic surgery is often presented as an option for more severe TMJ symptoms. For more information about arthroscopic surgery and other treatment options for TMJ symptoms, see Temporomandibular Disorder Treatment Options.
Links to Information about TMJ Injuries
TMJ Anatomy & Function – University of Washington
Facial & Mandibular Fractures – University of Washington – Diagnostic Radiology Anatomy Module
Mandible Fractures– How do you fix a broken jaw?
Temporomadibular Joint Tutorial [Gillespy & Richardson] – Washington U.
TMJ Disorders – National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research in partnership with the Office of Research on Women’s Health, components of the National Institutes of Health (NIH)
Temporomandibular Joint Disease [K.E. Goldman]
TMJ Guide – Download a PDF guide from the TMJ Association
Best Treatment for TMJ May Be Nothing – The New York Times
About Chairside Consultation on TMJ Disorders [E Reiman]
Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction also called Temporomandibular disorders, TMD, TMJ syndrome – U.S. National Library of Medicine (NIH MedlinePlus)
TMJ & Facial Pain Center [W Shankland]
DrBicuspid – For dental professionals