TMJ Dysfunction

(Self Diagnosis)

I am continually amazed at the number of people who have a significant TMJ problem, which has not been diagnosed. Often their symptoms are serious, but the dentists and medical doctors they have seen were unable to make a diagnosis. The patient knows something is wrong and may have accepted the notion that they will just have to live with the symptoms. Another very perplexing thing I observe is that often the TMJ condition has been correctly diagnosed, but the treatment rendered has not resolved the problem. Oh, sometimes a therapy has provided a temporary relief of symptoms, but other times the patient is being drugged into oblivion. These situations are especially sad, because the patients have often spent a lot of money, still agonize with the symptoms, and have nowhere to turn for relief.

The purpose of this writing is to allow you to do a "self-diagnosis" of TMJ dysfunction. The symptoms associated with TMJ dysfunction vary greatly, and almost all the symptoms could, in fact, be a symptom of some other medical problem. This is a major reason why getting a correct diagnosis can be difficult, and why I frequently refer to TMJ dysfunction as "The Great Imposter." If you experience as many as 5 of the following symptoms, it is almost certain that you have a TMJ dysfunction, at least to some degree.

  • Frequent headaches
  • Grating, clicking or popping in jaw joint
  • Ringing, roaring or buzzing in your ear
  • Fatigue in jaw after chewing tough food
  • Jaw gets stuck (either open or closed)
  • Sides of tongue imprinted by teeth
  • Difficulty in opening your jaw widely
  • Fatigue easily or chronically fatigued
  • Clinching or grinding the teeth
  • Suffered a blow to chin, face or head
  • Jaw deviates to side when opening wide
  • Tenderness in muscles of face or jaw
  • Fracturing of the back teeth
  • Stiffness or tension in neck muscles
  • Frequent neckaches at base of skull
  • Stuffiness or pressure in your ear
  • Dizziness or vertigo
  • Pain in area of jaw joint
  • Awaken with a headache
  • Fingers on hand tingle or go numb
  • Missing teeth (except wisdom teeth)
  • Had orthodontic extractions
  • History of a whiplash injury
  • Chewing gum worsens symptoms
  • Chronic low back pain
  • Sensitivity of the teeth
  • Excessive wear of the teeth
  • Radiating pain from neck to shoulder

An additional telltale clue that may signal a TMJ problem is a facial asymmetry. Look in the mirror and draw an imaginary line down the middle of your face between your eyes, down your nose, between your front teeth, and through the middle of your chin. Do you notice that your nose is crooked? Is the center point of your chin off the midline? If your nose is crooked and hasn't been broken, it may be significant. Likewise, if the center point of your chin is deviated to one side of the midline, it may also be significant.

For gnathologic function to be optimal there should be an orthogonal relationship (a parallelism) between the bones of the skull. Facial asymmetries, like those described above, often indicate a lack of such parallelism and may be associated with temporomandibular joint dysfunction.

Check out other areas of this website to learn more about TMJ dysfunction and how it may be corrected, non-surgically, and with minimal discomfort. You may reach us at (281) 837-9090.