6 Health Conditions that May Actually Be Connected to TMJ Disorder

TMJ disorder causes more than just jaw pain

Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD) is a common jaw issue that can have widespread effects on your health. Along with jaw pain and soreness, you could find yourself dealing with many seemingly unrelated symptoms. Understanding these related health conditions and what they have to do with TMJ disorder can help you find treatment and relief.

What Is TMD?

TMD affects the joints that connect the lower jawbone to the skull. The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) sees steady use in biting, chewing, and eating and endures impressive forces.

The many muscles and nerves related to the jaw create a complex system where several things can go wrong. TMJ disorder occurs when some issue with the joint, muscles, or nerves starts causing various symptoms.

These health conditions could mean you have TMD.

The complexity of the TMJ and associated muscles and nerves means that any issue can cause wide-ranging effects. Watch for these symptoms that might seem unrelated, but could actually be caused by TMJ disorder.

1. Chronic Pain

You likely already know that jaw pain is among the most common TMD symptoms. However, there are other types of chronic pain that don’t bear such an obvious connection. Pain across your face, neck, and back can also relate to TMJ disorder.

Most of this chronic pain arises from the wide range of the muscles related to the TMJ. If there’s an issue with the masseter, the muscle that closes the jaw, other muscles have to compensate. Relevant muscles are spread all across your face and throughout your neck and upper back. Chronic pain from TMD can affect any of these areas.

2. Headaches

Headaches are a common symptom of TMD. In many cases, these headaches are related to the muscles in the head and neck. Tension in these muscles can lead to pain affecting different areas of the head.

The different types of headaches you can experience from TMJ disorder make it hard to identify the root cause. You might experience something that feels like a migraine or a tension headache, or there could be pain behind your eyes. When combined with other symptoms, headaches are a good indicator of TMD.

3. Vertigo

The TMJ is located on the side of the head, very close to the ear. This means that TMJ disorder can affect the ear. Because the inner ear is responsible for balance, TMD can often cause vertigo and dizziness.

Inflammation, swelling, and other issues can lead to the muscles around the TMJ putting pressure on the delicate inner ear. The complex parts inside are easily affected; consequently, TMD can leave you feeling disoriented, unbalanced, nauseous, and lightheaded.

4. Bruxism

Bruxism is the unconscious grinding or clenching of your teeth, generally during sleep. This issue is closely related to TMD. Various issues with the joint, muscles, and nerves can lead to the occurrence of bruxism.

Grinding or clenching due to stress or other factors can also contribute to TMD. These actions put additional strain on the joint and surrounding muscles. Over time, bruxism can cause lasting damage to your smile, so it’s best to have it checked out right away.

5. Tinnitus

The proximity of the TMJ to the ear can also lead to tinnitus: the experience of ringing or other noises when no actual noise is present. The delicate parts of the inner ear can react to pressure from TMD, causing tinnitus due to tension.

6. Nerve Pain or Tingling

TMD can also affect the nerves around the joint, and this can, in turn, have wide-ranging effects on other parts of the body. Pinched nerves around the TMJ can cause pain or numbness in the arms, hands, and fingers.

What you can do to find relief.

TMJ disorder is a complex issue with a wide range of both contributing factors and symptoms. Any approach to TMJ disorder treatment must take this complexity into account and address the numerous factors at play. 

Dr. Alhadef at Dallas Cosmetic Dental is an expert in neuromuscular dentistry for TMJ. He’s the best University Park dentist to evaluate and diagnose TMD and develop a treatment plan using the latest technologies and methods.

Potential treatment options include transcutaneous electrical neural stimulation (TENS), which establishes a neutral resting jaw position to alleviate TMJ symptoms. In other cases, a custom mouthguard worn during sleep can hold the jaw in an appropriate position to relieve strain on the joint and prevent grinding and clenching.

Take action to relieve your TMJ disorder pain.

If you find yourself dealing with any of these symptoms, then TMD is one potential cause. You can schedule a consultation with Dr. Alhadef at Dallas Cosmetic Dental to find out whether TMD is a factor and get effective treatment and relief.