Jaw and face pain can be some of the most intense pain we experience. A new study published by Duke University explains that pain centralized in the head and face is actually processed differently than pain centralized in other regions of the body. Not only is this pain processed quicker, it’s also processed with neurons that are related to emotions, which can make the pain more disruptive. For this reason, if you experience intense jaw pain, then it might be time to meet with your dentist to avoid the emotional as well as physical pain.
However, what if the pain you’re experiencing is only minor? One of the most common symptoms of TMD, and one often recognized by patients, is clicking or popping noises in the jaw. Unfortunately, what makes TMD so difficult to diagnose, is that many suffers experience varied symptoms along with different levels of pain associated with those symptoms. This can make it difficult for patients to know when to seek help.
If you’ve been waiting to see a dentist about TMD symptoms, and are experiencing any mentioned below, it may be time to schedule that appointment.
Ringing in the ears can be heard as a buzzing or roaring sound. Generally, it is considered a symptom and not a disease. What links TMD to tinnitus is the temporomandibular joint, which acts as a hinge between the lower jaw and the skull. There are several potential links between TMD and tinnitus. First, evolutionary history tells us that the tiny bones in the ears were jaw bones in our ancestors, and many of the old muscle connections still link them. When jaw muscles are tense, it can disrupt the ear. The inner ear is also housed in the temporal bone, which is part of the temporomandibular joint, so disruption in the joint may put adverse pressure on the delicate structures responsible for hearing. And then there are the nerves that connect the ear to the brain, which might experience pressure from jaw components or other tissues disrupted by jaw displacement.
Many wouldn’t think to consider numb or tingling fingers as a symptom of TMD, but when the disorder has progressed past certain point, it can misalign your jaw. Due to the vertical posture of our bodies, any misalignment is met with a countermeasure that attempts to achieve equilibrium. What this means is that, to counteract a misaligned jaw, our bodies will natural reposition themselves, which can then put stress on our back, our hands, and our legs. This can pinch nerves as they exit certain tight corridors in the torso and enter the arm, causing the tingling sensation.
TMD related headaches are commonly misdiagnosed. Generally, they’re caused by the muscles in your jaw tightening, either from clenching your teeth or muscle weakness, and this can radiate upwards and cause tension headaches. In severe cases, it can cause migraines.
If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms above, you should schedule an appointment immediately. TMD can be a progressive disorder that worsens over time, making treatment more costly in the end.
Concerned about the severity of TMD in Anchorage? Please call (907) 349-0022 today for an appointment with a dentist at Excellence in Dentistry.