There’s no doubt that temporomandibular joint disorder or TMJ has become more visible in the last decade. A simple search will pull up thousands of pages which include articles, treatments, and lists of symptoms. Undoubtedly, this is a good thing for TMJ sufferers, as attention leads to more research and, eventually, better treatments. Unfortunately, over-familiarity can also lead to misinformation. If, while eating, you experience a popping or clicking sound, you will probably attribute this as a symptom of TMJ. The truth, however, is that the temporomandibular joint is a complex system that can cause symptoms throughout the body, not just in the jaw, and these symptoms should be taken seriously.
If you experience these symptoms, don’t ignore them! Seek a consultation with a local dentist with TMJ expertise.
Ringing in the Ears
Also known by its medical term, tinnitus can be experienced in many different ways. While some hear it as a ringing, others can hear tinnitus as clicking, buzzing, or a roaring noise, like the sound of the ocean. This common TMJ symptom is linked to the jaw through the complex musculo-skelature of the skull. The temporomandibular joint are two joints that connect the jawbone to the temporal bone. Because of its closeness to the ear canals, any dysfunction of the joint can affect the ear canals. If you notice ringing while eating, this could be a sign to see a dentist about your TMJ.
Numb or Tingling Fingers
Fingers that often tingle or become numb is definitely not what most associate with TMJ. Based on simple body geography, its seems out of the ordinary that the jaw could affect the fingers. Interestingly enough, however, our spine is very sensitive to any equilibrium shifts, including those that occur in the jaw. These imbalances can cause shoulder and neck issues which can transfer to the fingers. Pressure can be put on nerves as they exit the spine or as they thread through the shoulder. This pressure can affect the nerves’ ability to carry sensory information from the fingers, causing them to feel numb or tingly.
Frequent Headaches or Migraines
Tension stored in the jaw muscle can transfer to several other structures in the skull. The result of this transfer can cause symptoms like tension headaches, which have been described as a “vice-like” tension or squeezing sensation around the skull. Tension headaches are one of the most common headaches that occur, and usually clear up with over-the-counter medication. However, they have been known to trigger more serious headaches, such as migraines.
While migraines have yet to be linked to TMJ, the exact mechanism which causes migraines is largely misunderstood. It’s thought that the trigeminal nerve plays a critical role in migraine and migraine treatment, and a possible link to TMJ, as TMJ can overstimulate the trigeminal nerve.
If you’re having TMJ problems, give Excellence in Dentistry a call at (907) 349-0022 to let us at help today!