With cold and flu season on the way and with the COVID-19 pandemic, you might question any symptom of an illness that pops up. Oftentimes, you think its one thing when it’s really another.

Young man walking down the street with jaw painOne common misdiagnosis is TMJ and chronic sinusitis. Chronic sinusitis and TMJ can often show very similar symptoms such as headaches, jaw pain, neck pain, and ear-related symptoms like tinnitus, dizziness, and ear fullness.

But telling the difference between the two conditions is crucial for getting the proper treatment, even going to the proper professional.

Here are some things to look out for, but, in the end, a proper diagnosis will depend on getting a professional opinion.

Overlapping Symptoms of TMJ and Sinusitis

As we noted above, there are many symptoms that can occur either with TMJ or with sinusitis. If you’re wondering: “Can sinuses cause neck pain or can sinus infections cause jaw pain?” The answer is yes! TMJ can also cause neck and jaw pain. In addition, TMJ and sinusitis cause the following overlapping symptoms:

  • Headaches
  • Facial pain or pressure
  • Jaw pain
  • Toothaches
  • Neck pain
  • Tinnitus
  • Dizziness or vertigo
  • Ear fullness or pain

These symptoms aren’t conclusive for either condition. If you have these, it could be either sinusitis or TMJ so you want to look for more distinct symptoms. In TMJ, these symptoms are caused by muscle pressure and exertion. In sinusitis, it’s the clogged sinuses that are causing the symptoms.

Watch for Obvious Symptoms of Sinusitis

Sinusitis comes with some fairly obvious symptoms that should give it away. If you experience any of the following, it’s likely that you have a sinus infection:

  • Facial congestion
  • Nasal obstruction
  • Discharge from the nose that is thick and discolored
  • Changes in taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Upset stomach

These symptoms develop as a result of the collection of mucus in the nose and sinuses. This thick mucus will clog your nose and may ooze out either forward through the nose or backward in the throat. It changes your sense of taste and smell because your nostrils are clogged and mucus is seeping into your mouth. This can also irritate your throat and lead to an upset stomach.

Other TMJ Symptoms

There are also some symptoms that are more closely related to TMJ. If you have these, it’s more likely that you have TMJ:

  • Soreness in the jaw joint
  • Jaw sounds (popping, clicking, or grinding)
  • Tenderness in the muscles

You should also note that if your symptoms tend to flare up after you’ve been actively using your jaw, such as chewing or talking, then it’s much more likely that you have TMJ.

Is it Sinusitis, TMJ, or a Tooth Infection?

Another problem that causes overlapping symptoms with TMJ and sinus infections is toothache. Toothaches also cause pain in the face, fatigue, and headaches. Like sinus infections, they can also cause fevers. One way to determine if you have a tooth infection and not TMJ or sinusitis is if you present any of the following symptoms:

  • Discolored teeth
  • Discharge from gums or tooth
  • Bad breath
  • Small pimple-like sore on gums
  • Swollen, tender gums

If a tooth infection is the cause of your jaw pain, it’s important to seek treatment as soon as possible. Most patients will require a root canal or even an extraction to remove the infection and prevent further problems.

Not Responding to Treatment?

If you’re suffering from jaw pain and your doctor prescribes you medicine to treat a sinus infection and your jaw pain still doesn’t go away, it might be a different underlying cause.

Unfortunately, the way that many people find out they have TMJ is that they find out the treatment their doctor recommended just isn’t working. Or maybe you’ve been trying home care, hoping that the problem would go away, only it hasn’t.

In either case, it may be time to talk to a TMJ dentist. We have scientific equipment that can give us a precise diagnosis of TMJ or eliminate it altogether. If your pain is from a toothache, we can also help diagnose and treat you.

It’s time to stop wondering about your condition and learn for sure whether a toothache or TMJ is responsible for your symptoms. To schedule an appointment with a TMJ dentist in Savannah, please call (912) 234-8282 today at The Durham Office, providing Beyond Exceptional Dentistry.