Do you have pain in your jaw joint or in/around your ear when you’re talking, chewing or yawning? Or are you hearing clicking, popping or grating sounds in your jaw joint when you open and close your mouth? You may have a temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder.
Your TMJ connects your lower jawbone to your skull. It’s located immediately in front of your ears on each side of your head. This joint acts like a sliding hinge, allowing your jaw to move up and down and side to side. A small shock-absorbing disk separates the cartilage-covered ball and socket bones, helping the joint to move smoothly. This joint makes it possible for you to talk, chew and yawn.
While the exact cause of your temporomandibular joint disorder may be difficult for Dr. Jon Erickson at Danville Family Dentistry (located in Hendricks County, IN) to determine, many dentists believe temporomandibular joint disorders occur when you have problems with the muscles or nerves of the jaw or with parts of the joint itself. Some possible causes may include:

  • A hard blow, whiplash or another traumatic injury to your TMJ, jaw or the muscles of your head and neck.
  • Pressure on the TMJ from grinding or clenching your teeth.
  • Disk erosion or movement that shifts your TMJ out of proper alignment.
  • Arthritis that damages your TMJ’s cartilage.
  • Stress that causes you to tighten your facial and jaw muscles.

Temporomandibular joint disorders can cause pain and discomfort that may be temporary or last for several years. Other common symptoms may include:

  • Pain or tenderness in your face and TMJ, in or around your ear, and/or in your neck and shoulders when you talk, chew or open your mouth wide.
  • The inability to open your mouth very wide.
  • Clicking, popping or grating sounds in your TMJ when you’re talking or eating.
  • Locking of your TMJ in an open- or closed-mouth position.
  • Difficulty chewing or sudden pain when you take a bite, as if your upper and lower teeth aren’t aligned correctly.
  • Swelling on one or both sides of your face.
  • Tight or sore jaw or neck muscles.
  • Earaches.
  • Headaches.
  • Shoulder pain.
  • Ringing or popping sounds in your ears.

If you suspect you may have a temporomandibular joint disorder, schedule an appointment with Danville Family Dentistry. When you come into our Hendricks County office, Dr. Erickson will examine you to determine if you have a temporomandibular joint disorder or another condition, like a toothache, sinusitis or gum disease, that has similar symptoms. He will also talk with you about possible causes and treatments.