Temporomandibular Joint & Muscle Community
932 Members
4494800 tn?1355444091

Questions regarding TMJ! help

Ever since i was a little kid.. maybe around 7 years old(am 19 turning 20), i've made a bad habit of always grinding my teeth when doing anything tedious... i.e. playing video games, taking a hard test, solving a difficult puzzle.. whatever.

Is it possible to develop a TMJ issue from doing this all those years?

Two weeks ago i started experiencing a lot of pressure in my left ear accompanied by a pain that i thought to be in the inner portion of my ear. I went to the doctor thinking that I had an ear infection of some sort.. later on that day i was experiencing pain by both of my temples... and by the bottom portion of my jaw, where i usually grind my teeth along with some numbness. The numbness subsided... and i thought nothing of it. I took ear drops for a few days and instilled them into both of my ears. The pressure feeling got worse for the time being (because there was some liquid still insstilled in them from the drops) I went back to the ENT several times, and each time he said that my ears looked completely fine and couldnt understand why i was feeling pressure and occasional pains.

He told me to go to an audiologist closest to my home and have her run some tests to see if she can figure out what's going on. I went to her.. she ran like 5 or 6 tests. Testing me on my hearing and testing for pressure. Everything came out normal... and i was told that it could just be from an upper respiratory infection subsiding.

This was 2 months ago. Last week when i was walking down hill i started hearing a feeling a clicking sound in the back of my head.. whenever i take a step or shake my head i hear a constant click. But i noticed that when i lock my jaw and chomp down on my mollars and shake my head or walk down a hill the clicking sound gets waay less frequent.. still slightly there, but almost non existant.

Pressure in ear is worse when i wake up, and i experience aches by the inner ear, @ my temple area, and at the bottom of my jaw by my mollar consisntently throughout the day.

Are these symptoms of TMJ?

Is it treatable if so...?


6 Responses
Avatar universal
Yes, it is absolutely possible to develop a TMJ issue from grinding your teeth.  it is likely you grind your teeth at night also which would be why you feel pain more in the morning.  Are you married by chance or in a relationship?  I first found out about my night grinding because my spouse could hear me grinding at night!   TMJ dysfunction definitely needs to be evaluated for when you are having ear pain, but with a normal ear exam.  I have found good relief from a custom made mouth guard that I wear at night, you can find a TMJ specialist for that.  The ones you can buy at the store and boil are great for protecting your enamel, but the soft, squishy texture can make you want to grind more on it, so if you have enough money or insurance to get a custom one I would do that.  

Also, my chiropractor knows a lot about TMJ and massages out the muscles which helps a lot, and taught me how to correct my jaw alignment.  Go to a mirror and slowly open your mouth.  Your jaw should open perfectly straight and not deviate to one side or the other.  If it does go to one side, practice in the mirror making it open straight.  This will retrain your muscles around the TMJ.  Let me know if you have any other questions!  
875426 tn?1325532016
While some of what you describe sounds directly correlated to TMJ issues related to your teeth grinding (ie: ear pain, temple pain, and bottom of jaw pain), the clicking in the back of your head would not fit.  Clicking in the jaw joint, however would match up with a TMJ issue.  

So, you are likely describing two different things- one has to do with your TMJ,  but the clicking in the back of your head (if not being misperceived as coming from that location) may have a different source- have you tried neck exercises where you hear this clicking?  (I noticed you mentioned shaking your head)?

Grinding your teeth at night, which you cannot control while asleep could cause you to wake up with worsened pain.  But in the daytime, focusing on stress management (major goal for grinding and clenching), keeping your facial muscles relaxed, and your teeth apart with a slack-jaw, may help with the muscular portion of your pain as well as take a load off your joints much of the time (though even swallowing can put pressure on them).  

The custom made splint Penny suggests may be something you want to seriously consider, though it can cost quite a lot and often, medical insurance does not cover it- but please see if your dentist does molds for getting a night guard to prevent the added joint stress of clenching and chomping during your hours of sleep. & find out if they would recommend that as a treatment in your case.

If you are extra inflamed in your joint, the dentist (or a maxillofacial specialist who does TMJ splint treatment), may (after examination and deciding this is a problem right now for you) suggest for a period of time you wear your splint even more hours than just at night and might even prescribe cyclic ibuprofen for a certain length of time.  It is very likely the TMJ dentist or TMJ oral and maxillofacial specialist will order a panorex type x-ray to look at the condition of your jaw oints.

You might also try moist heat and/or ice in the area that is painful to you and see if either or both helps with symptom relief.  And avoid gum chewing, hard and very chewy foods to try to minimize jaw joint stress from those sorts of things.  When you yawn, may I also suggest you try to not open too wide (use a finger or two on your chin if that helps to stop from doing so)?

Do you have an overbite?  
4494800 tn?1355444091
Thanks for the responses guys... and yeah, i'm not sure if i grind my teeth at night, because im still living at home with my parents (im 19) and as for the clicking sound... i'm not sure, it feels like its coming from the back of my head but i guess it could be coming from the jaw? Dunno. All i know is that i actually do have had the really bad habit WHILE being AWAKE that i clench my jaw and grind my teeth a lot throughout the day....

And about the overbite question... YES, i have a really bad overbite actually lol

I had braces a few years back... but i didnt wear my retainer when i was supposed to... so the overbite has remained
875426 tn?1325532016
It's highly likely since you clench and grind in the day that the same thing is going on when you sleep.  I clench in my sleep, though I have had to make a conscious effort in the day to try not to clench & I have a flat planed splint that keeps my teeth apart in my sleep.  Slack-jaw

You say you have an overbite, which is a high risk factor for developing TMJ problems according to what I learned from the first maxillofacial specialist place I went to.  You are still young enough that you may want to find out from an oral and maxillofacial specialist if your overbite is severe enough to warrant surgical correction (braces can come first with this to prepare the teeth to be in the right place post surgery).  

I had braces and retainers, but my overbite remained.  However, when the orthodontist said he'd done the best he could and to do any better, it would take surgery, I did not know that later on I would have severe TMJ dysfunction with osteoarthritis.  I was happy my teeth were straightened and as a happy teenager in ignorance of what was to come, my family left it at that.

The clicking I had early on from my jaw I didn't know I had until a neurologist who was treating me for migraines asked about it.  If I remember correctly, I put my hand to my joint and discovered, yes, I did feel a clicking going on (was opening and closing my mouth).

It is important to get early intervention, so please, don't delay in finding the best TMJ oral and maxillofacial specialist you can in your area!
Avatar universal
can completely understand what your going through.I was also suffering with the same problem since 4 years nd even after going through treatment with several doctors nd therapists i did not get any reief, infact i developed back pain which i was told was because of my TMJ problem.I finally found a solution after undergoing Neuromuscular dentistry in a centre in India which treats body pains through dentistry.im now absoutely fine and pain free

875426 tn?1325532016
I'm glad you found something that works for you!
Have an Answer?
Top Dental Answerers
Avatar universal
taipei, Taiwan
Learn About Top Answerers
Didn't find the answer you were looking for?
Ask a question
Popular Resources
If you suffer from frequent headaches, jaw clicking and popping ear pain, you may have TMJ. Top dentist Hamidreza Nassery, DMD, has the best TMJ treatments for you.
A list of national and international resources and hotlines to help connect you to needed health and medical services.
Here’s how your baby’s growing in your body each week.
These common ADD/ADHD myths could already be hurting your child
This article will tell you more about strength training at home, giving you some options that require little to no equipment.
In You Can Prevent a Stroke, Dr. Joshua Yamamoto and Dr. Kristin Thomas help us understand what we can do to prevent a stroke.