Temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ or, sometimes, TMD) may seem innocuous enough at first, but they’re progressive. If they’re left untreated, they can be progressive, leading to serious damage to your teeth and jaw. When this happens, they are much harder and much more expensive to treat. And treatment success is much lower.

So it’s best to know the warning signs of TMJ so you can avoid damage in the first place. Here are some warning signs that might seem innocuous but should not be ignored.

Jaw Popping and Clicking

Jaw popping and clicking is an important warning sign for TMJ. It’s a very common symptom. It also has a tendency to appear early, preceding other TMJ symptoms by months or even years. It’s also a good indicator that your TMJ is at a stage when it’s probably treatable using noninvasive methods.

The problem with jaw popping and clicking is that people think it’s unimportant and they’re more likely to ignore it. What they’re not realizing is that a clicking jaw isn’t like cracking knuckles–it’s a sign that your jaw has a serious dysfunction.

Limited Jaw Opening

Do you find that you have trouble eating many foods because your jaw won’t open wide enough. Does it hurt to visit the dentist or the doctor when you’re asked to open your jaw wide? If that’s the case, you may not be able to open your jaw enough. Like jaw cracking and popping, this is a sign of jaw dysfunction that’s only going to get worse. If your jaw has difficulty opening or closing fully, then it may soon be unable to open or close at all.

Sore Jaw after Talking or Eating

Some people think that developing a sore jaw after a lot of talking or eating is normal. It’s true that you might overwork your jaw slightly in some situations, causing them to be sore, but this is relatively rare. If you have a sore jaw on a regular basis after talking or eating, then you should consider talking to a TMJ dentist about the problem and learning whether you have TMJ.

Ringing and Other Ear Symptoms

Many people with TMJ have ringing in their ears. Some studies suggest that about 80% of TMJ sufferers have symptoms like ringing in the ears, ear fullness, ear pain, vertigo, and other ear symptoms. Even more telling, a recent study suggests that perhaps 94% of tinnitus cases are associated with a particular kind of TMJ.

Unfortunately, many people with tinnitus aren’t told that their condition could be related to TMJ, and that treating TMJ could reduce or eliminate tinnitus.

Sore, Chipped, or Cracked Teeth

As with a sore jaw, some people might think that it’s normal to have sore teeth after eating a challenging meal, but your teeth should be able to easily handle all foods in a modern diet. If you’re not cracking nuts or opening bottles with your teeth, your teeth shouldn’t get sore or chipped. If your teeth hurt from chewing or if you’re developing chips or cracks on teeth, it’s a warning sign of things to come, and you should get your bite treated before the problem spreads to more of your teeth.

Get Your Bite Evaluated

TMJ is best treated before it develops into a more serious stage. If you experience these or other TMJ symptoms including headaches, it’s best to talk to a neuromuscular dentist about the problem. If you’re looking for a neuromuscular dentist in Savannah, please call (912) 234-8282 today for an appointment at Beyond Exceptional Dentistry.