Causes and Symptoms of TMJ Pain

September 23, 2019 by Salt Lake Dental

TMJ is the abbreviated reference for Temporomandibular Joint. Temporomandibular joint pain is a feeling of discomfort in the joint that lies between your skull and the back of your mouth. This joint is basically a sliding hinge between your mouth and your skull that allows free movement of your mouth cavity. Therefore a TMJ makes chewing, yawning and any other activity that requires you to open your mouth wide, difficult.

An issue with the Temporomandibular joint primarily arises due to lifestyle disorders. Let us have a glance of the number of factors that could contribute in causing a TMJ issue.

  • Teeth grinding and clenching :

Continuous clenching of the teeth, consciously or unconsciously, may lead to the development of a TMJ issue. This takes place due to incessant excessive pressure that is created by the upper and the lower jaw teeth at the back of the mouth. Treatments mostly comprise wearing a mouth guard at night in order to create a hindrance to the bite.

  • Some traumatic experience:

A jaw injury is quite a common cause of temporomandibular joint pain. Sports injuries or any other type of accident can later manifest themselves as TMJ pain. Medication primarily comprises painkillers in treating such pain.

  • Arthritic pain:

If you are suffering from the problem of arthritis, you are at high risk of developing TMJ pain. Patients of rheumatoid arthritis complain of this issue quite often.

A TMJ pain usually manifests itself as facial pain. Now, facial pain is sometimes difficult to detect. Patients complain of discomfort somewhere on their face but are hardly able to denote it as TMJ pain. Therefore, it is important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of TMD (temporomandibular disorder).

A temporomandibular joint issue shows the following symptoms:


Pain is perhaps the most common complaint of such patients. It could be a continuous pain or occurring only during some jaw activity and it could go from mild to severe. A TMD pain could eventually resolve, if not, you need to consult your dentist ASAP.

Limitation in Opening the Mouth

The inability to open the mouth wide is a common symptom. This may be the result of muscle hyperactivity or strain. Such a case is detected when patients exhibit a deviation to one side for opening their mouth (due to the presence of the pain).

Some Unusual Sounds

Some clicking or popping sound is heard when the condyle moves. Although joint sounds could also occur from normal variations in the physical characteristics of the joint, yet, this is considered as one of the signs. Usually, these unusual sounds are accompanied by pain or facial discomfort when your dentist actually diagnoses it as a TMD.

Two of the other common symptoms that a TMD patient faces are difficulty in chewing, talking, and yawning and/or pain and tenderness in the jaws. In most cases, however, the pain and discomfort is temporary. It either resolves by itself or can be relieved with self-managed care. In extreme cases, only surgery is typically the last resort.