#35 Unusual Symptoms associated with TMD

There are 10 common symptoms associated with TMD.

  • Headaches
  • Earaches
  • Jaw Pain
  • Neck Pain
  • Shoulder Pain and Tightness
  • Tinnitus
  • Subjective Hearing Loss
  • Vertigo
  • Arm/Hand/Finger Tingling and Numbness
  • Various Types of Jaw Locking

However, there are several symptoms seen less frequently that are known to be associated with TMD

  • Pain behind the Eyes
  • Pain Associated with the Sinuses
  • Tooth Pain
  • Feeling that the Teeth are not Meeting Evenly (Bite Uneven)
  • Burning tongue
  • Chest Pain
  • Visual Disturbances

Each of these symptoms can be explained by the now well-known mechanism of inflammation within the Temporomandibular Joint signaling the brain that the joint is inflamed and the brain signaling various muscles to tighten up.  This is the phenomenon associated with the “flight or flight” response.  The confusing aspect of the response is that the signals sometimes go to muscles that have nothing to do with moving the jaw.  When they incorrectly go to the muscles that move the eye the patient will complain of pain behind the eye or blurred or partial vision. When the signal is sent to tighten up the upper chest and shoulder the Pectoralis Muscle can become so tight that the patient thinks he is having a heart attack.  I have had three (3) patients who had that experience.  Each was found negative for heart issues and the symptoms resolved by treating the inflammation within the TMJ.

Tooth pain is a confusion by the patient who swears one or more of the posterior teeth hurt, when actually the pain is caused by the muscles in the area of the posterior teeth pulling on the bone near the teeth in question creating pain, but not associated with any of the teeth themselves.

The complaints of “My teeth do not meet together evenly any longer” is due to the disc or cushion within the TMJ becoming dislocated.  When this occurs it takes up extra room within the TMJ causing the entire jaw to become slightly pushed to one side.  The result is the bite will feel abnormal.  Once the disc returns to a more normal position the problem with the bite disappears.

Patients frequently complain of sinus pain and sinus headaches, when the actual cause is the muscles of the face and jaws pulling on the bone over the sinuses giving the patient the impression that they have a sinus infection.  We frequently see patients who have been cleared by the ENT for sinus infection and the symptoms go away when the inflammation of the TMJ is reduced.

And finally, burning tongue is possible when the inflammation of the TMJ finds its way into the middle ear.  The Chorda Tympany is the nerve that traverses the middle ear and supplies taste and sensation to the tongue. When this nerve is stimulated by inflammation it can cause the sensation of a burning tongue.

Very strange symptoms indeed.  You can see why the physician or dentist becomes confused trying to make the correct diagnosis.

If you suffer from any of the symptoms noted above, and have not found resolution after consultations with several doctors, you might consider TMD as the cause.  Give us a call.  We are here to help.