Recognizing the Symptoms of TMJ

Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) and muscle disorders, commonly called “TMJ,” are a group of conditions that cause pain and dysfunction in the jaw joint and the muscles that control jaw movement. Some estimates suggest that over 10 million Americans are affected and that women are more affected with TMJ than men.

The temporomandibular joint connects the lower jaw, called the mandible, to the bone at the side of the head—the temporal bone. The unique design of the TMJ allows the jaw to move smoothly up and down and side to side, enabling us to talk, chew and yawn. Muscles attached to and surrounding the jaw joint control its position and movement.

For most people, pain in the area of the jaw joint or muscles is occasional, temporary, does not signal a serious problem and eventually goes away with little or no treatment. Sounds, such as clicking, in the jaw are common and if not accompanied by pain or limited jaw movement, do not indicate a TMJ disorder.

Research disputes the popular belief that a bad bite or orthodontic braces can trigger TMJ disorders. But some people develop significant, long-term symptoms which can often begin without any obvious reason:

  • Radiating pain in the face, jaw or neck
  • Frequent or debilitating headaches, neck aches, stiff shoulders, pain in the jaw area, chewing muscles and nearby locations like ears, temple and cheek
  • Jaw muscle stiffness
  • Teeth grinding which may indicate a gearing problem that leads to muscle spasms
  • Limited movement, tightness or locking of the jaw
  • Painful clicking, popping or grating in the jaw joint when opening or closing the mouth
  • A change in the way the upper and lower teeth fit together
  • Muscle spasms in the head, neck or jaw, often caused by other medical conditions, accidents and injuries
  • Buzzing in the ear, vertigo (dizziness), greater sensitivity to sounds, etc.

If you are concerned about TMJ disorder, give us a call at Angell Dentistry. Dr. Angell will be happy to answer your questions, examine your mouth and jaw and provide practical suggestions or treatment recommendations.

Angell’s Dentistry is committed to providing each of our patients with a beautiful, healthy smile and unmatched dental care. We invite you to visit our website at:

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