In addition, discs can sometimes slip forward in the jaw joint, leading to problems such as clicking, popping or even getting “stuck” for a moment. However, these often are minor problems and, on their own, may not constitute TMJ Disorder. In the absence of jaw pain, they usually don’t require treatment.
Oral habits such as clenching or grinding (bruxism) may develop as a response to stress or as part of a sleep disorder. You may be unaware of nighttime clenching or grinding, but you may catch yourself doing this during the day. These habits can tire the muscles and cause them to go into spasm. This spasm causes pain which in turn causes more spasm. In time, persistent muscle problems may affect the joints themselves, and a complex cycle of pain and improper function will be established.
- Pain in or around the ear and sometimes spreading to the face
- Tenderness of the jaw muscles
- Clicking or popping noise when one opens or closes their mouth
- Difficulty in opening one’s mouth
- Jaw that seems stuck, locked or “goes out”
- Pain developed by yawning, chewing or opening the mouth widely
- Certain types of headaches or neck pain
- Teeth are chipping away at the gum line
- Teeth are extremely sensitive to cold temperatures
- Eliminate muscle spasm and pain by applying moist heat or taking prescribed medication such as muscle relaxants, analgesics or anti-inflammatory drugs
- Eliminate some of the harmful effects of clenching or grinding the teeth by wearing a dental night guard (bruxism device)
- Practice relaxation techniques to help control muscle tension in the jaw