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TMJ Symptoms: What to look out for and what they feel like

A man experiences TMJ symptoms

Do you know how to identify TMJ symptoms? If you have ever experienced the pain of temporomandibular joint disorder, you'll likely be able to identify the symptoms of TMJ easily. TMJ pain isn't easy to forget.

But if you haven't been diagnosed with TMJ, or if you are experiencing pain in your jaw that you worry might be related to your temporomandibular joint (TMJ), then let's review what you should be watching for.

Clicking and popping

One of the first symptoms of TMJ that many people notice is a clicking and popping sensation when they open and close their mouths. This can be a good indicator that your jaw is out of alignment due to a TMJ disorder.

You may notice this sensation most when you open your mouth widely to take a bite of food, but a temporomandibular disorder can cause clicking and popping with nearly any jaw movement.

Clenching or grinding teeth

TMJ is often associated with clenching and grinding of the teeth. This activity and tension can cause the muscles around your temporomandibular joint to swell and become inflamed. You might notice a difference in how your teeth fit together, caused by a misalignment of the jaw joint.


Temporomandibular disorder causes pain in a variety of places. Some of the most common TMJ pains include

  • Facial pain in front of your ears
  • Jaw pain
  • Eye pain
  • Ear pain
  • Headaches
  • Neck and shoulder pain

You may experience swelling on one side of the face, or severe headaches on only one side of your head. Some TMJ patients report earaches, hissing, buzzing, ringing, or roaring sounds.

Misalignment of the jaw

TMJ can cause changes to your bite. Look out for a misalignment of your jaw that seems to happen suddenly. Some related symptoms include upper and lower teeth that do not align properly (called malocclusion), or a feeling like your teeth just don't fit together.

Locking of the jaw

Many people with TMJ report stiffness or a "locked" feeling in the jaw when talking, yawning, or eating. Sometimes TMJ can make it feel difficult to open and close the mouth and/or chew.

What to do if you experience TMJ symptoms

If you experience these symptoms, we recommend that you contact your dentist right away. They will be able to discuss treatment options that may include some combination of

  • Muscle relaxants
  • Exercises to relax the jaw muscles
  • Eating soft foods
  • Moist heat
  • Anti-inflammatories
  • Physical therapy

A TMJ specialist, like ours at TMJ & Sleep Therapy Centre of Raleigh-Durham, may recommend a custom mouthguard that can help realign your jaw and prevent the clenching and grinding that often causes TMJ.

Learn more about some other TMJ related symptoms, and get treatment today.

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TMJ & Sleep Therapy Centre of Raleigh-Durham

  • 1150 NW Maynard Rd, Suite #140
    Cary, North Carolina 27513
  • (919) 323-4242
  • Monday: 9am – 5pm Tuesday: 9am – 6pm Wednesday: 9am – 5pm Thursday: 9am – 6pm Friday: 9am – 1pm Sat - Sun Closed We always have someone to answer the phone from 9-5pm every day
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