Can TMJ Can Cause Tooth Pain? TMJ and Toothache Link Explained

Table of Contents

TMJ stands for Temporomandibular Joint, and, like every other joint in your body, it primarily connects two or more bones to allow multiple movements.

Can TMJ Can Cause Tooth Pain?

It is one of your body’s most complex and crucial joints, responsible for numerous physiological tasks.

When your TMJ does not function appropriately, it can lead to a broad range of conditions called TMJ disorders. These alterations are a group of malfunctions of your joint that can cause multiple head, face, and oral issues.

Moreover, these disorders can inflame and deprogram your jaw muscles and tendons, forcing you to make involuntary, incorrect, and uncoordinated jaw movements. Eventually, these issues transfer that tension to your teeth, inducing toothaches and other oral problems.

Your Temporomandibular Joint is a sophisticated structure with multiple elements such as cartilage, ligaments, arteries, and nerves. It consists mainly of a cartilaginous disk, a protective sack called the capsule, and multiple ligaments.

At the same time, your TMJ is crossed by various ligaments and muscles that attach to other bones and crucial structures in your head to allow its physiological function.

Function of the TMJ

TMJ is involved in every movement of your mouth. Moreover, it is directly responsible for chewing, clenching, swallowing, and speaking. Also, it keeps your jawbone connected to your head while performing numerous activities under considerable pressure and force.

Your TMJ performs approximately more than 2000 movements every day. As a result, it is a crucial part of your daily life, indispensable for the most basic functions such as nutrition, appearance, and communication.

The Link Between TMJ and Tooth Pain

When a TMJ disorder is not addressed in time, your teeth receive all the pressure and tension from your muscles and tendons. As a result, they can cause tooth wear, chewing disorders, and other issues that also cause dental pain.

The Link Between TMJ and Tooth Pain

In some cases, the dental wear can get so severe that it can induce dental abscesses and complex treatments.

Common symptoms of TMJ-related tooth pain

Here are some of the most common symptoms of TMJ disorders that affect your teeth:

  • Dental wear in front or posterior teeth
  • Dental pain that refers to the ear, temple, or forehead
  • Impossibility to open the mouth
  • Toothache after waking up in the morning

Also, these are other TMJ-related disorder symptoms:

  • Headaches and neck pain
  • Clicks or noises when opening or closing your mouth
  • Constant jaw dislocation
  • Jaw pain
  • Muscles and tendons pain
  • Plugged and painful ears

Diagnosing TMJ-Related Tooth Pain

Determining the cause of TMJ issues can be a challenge for your dentist. TMJ conditions can have multiple causes from genetics, habits, environment, and biological reasons to dental and anatomic problems.

Therefore, your dentist must perform a comprehensive and exhaustive examination to determine possible triggers. Moreover, most times, TMJ conditions have multiple simultaneous causes, making its treatment complex and delicate.

To obtain a precise and informed diagnosis, your dentist must perform numerous tests and additional exams to find the cause of your TMJ disorder.

Unlike other tissues in your body, TMJ does not show in a regular X-ray. Thus, your dentist must perform other imaging tests, such as magnetic resonance imaging, computed tomography, specialized x-ray projections, or high-resolution ultrasonography.

With all the information gathered by your imaging tests, clinical evaluation, and symptoms, your dental specialist can obtain an accurate clinical diagnosis and trace a treatment plan for a predictable recovery.

Treatment Options for TMJ-Related Tooth Pain

TMJ disorder can considerably affect your quality of life in many aspects. People with TMJ diseases usually struggle to eat, swallow, talk, and even sleep and perform daily activities due to pain and discomfort.

However, there are multiple solutions and treatment alternatives and changes that you can make in your lifestyle to relieve the symptoms.

Lifestyle changes to alleviate TMJ symptoms

Stress, work overload, and anxiety are among the most frequent psychological causes of TMJ problems. Moreover, bruxism is a condition that might cause you to grind your teeth without noticing, inducing TMJ issues.

Fortunately, you can address most of these issues with healthy habits and positive lifestyle changes such as relaxation therapy, posture correction, stress reduction, and sleep improvement.

Additionally, you can change some harmful habits such as object biting, nail-biting, and teeth clenching.

Dental treatments for TMJ-related tooth pain

Dental treatment is a solution when your TMJ problems are caused by your oral conditions. Your dentist can opt for a broad variety of therapies, such as an occlusal splint, dental bonding, orthodontia, and other prosthetic treatments.

Dental treatments for TMJ-related tooth pain

Yet, TMJ-related pain typically involves multiple causes, and it is crucial to address them all for a satisfactory resolution.

In addition to the dental treatment options, your dentist could also indicate the following minimally invasive therapies:

  • Pharmacological therapy: with painkillers or muscle relaxants.
  • Non-steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs: for severe pain and arthritis problems.
  • Corticosteroids: for specific cases with moderate to severe TMJ pain.
  • Physiotherapy: to alleviate muscular pain with massages or electric stimulation.
  • Acupuncture: as a natural method for chronic pain.
  • Cold and warm compresses: to alleviate joint and muscle pain.

However, these options must be addressed and contrasted by a specialist with caution and approved only after careful evaluation.

Surgical options for severe TMJ cases

When the pain therapy does not work, your dentist can consider surgery to correct the issue. These procedures usually involve anatomical problem corrections and botulinum toxin injection in certain areas to provide pain relief in severe cases.

Sometimes, the surgery can include implantation or joint and condylar replacement. However, these are rare procedures with specific indications and recommendations.

Seeking Professional Help for TMJ-Related Tooth Pain

TMJ-related issues are complex and multifactorial. As a result, it is indispensable that you receive a complete examination and diagnosis from a TMJ specialist.

Seeking Professional Help for TMJ-Related Tooth Pain

Finding your TMJ disorder cause is essential for a quick recovery and avoiding long-term consequences. Among the most frequent complications of TMJ disorder are tooth loss, TMJ arthritis, jaw movement impairment, psychological conditions, myalgias, and others.

Questions to ask your healthcare provider about TMJ treatment

Ask your professional healthcare provider for non-invasive treatment, such as acupuncture, physiotherapy, or pharmacological therapies, before considering invasive alternatives.

Also, consulting for an occlusal splint is a great way to prevent issues if you clench your teeth or snore at night.

Finding the right care for your TMJ-related tooth pain

The appropriate care measures for your TMJ problems will depend on multiple factors seen in this article. Your specialist must consider numerous variables and structures to provide a balanced and customized treatment plan.

Scroll to Top