The Hidden Warning Signs of TMJ Disorder

According to a 2015 study in the journal American Family Physician, an estimated 15 to 20 percent of Americans suffer from the condition known as temporomandibular joint disorder, also known as TMJ disorder, or simply TMJD. But while so many people suffer from the often-debilitating symptoms of this joint disorder, the study found that only about 5 percent of sufferers seek help for the condition.

But why would so many people simply ignore or fail to treat such a painful problem? Believe it or not, it’s because many people simply don’t know they have a TMJ disorder in the first place. Surprised? Don’t be – you may not realize it, but TMJ disorders can affect way more than just the jaw. Whether you suspect you might have a TMJ disorder – and even if you don’t – check out these little-known TMJD symptoms. It could help spare you a lot of pain!


Do you suffer from frequent unexplained headaches or migraines? You may not have realized it, but these headaches could be caused by a TMJ disorder. That’s because when your bite is misaligned, it can cause everything from teeth grinding to tension to even pressure on the trigeminal nerve of your sinuses, all of which can contribute to or occur as a side effect of a TMJ disorder

Neck Pain

You know what’s a real “pain in the neck”? Neck pain – especially the neck pain caused by a TMJ disorder. That’s because many people who experience TMJD-related neck pain often don’t know why they are experiencing it, and thus cannot get the help they need to prevent it. Temporomandibular joint disorders can increase neck pain by causing spasms in the muscles surrounding the jaw and temporomandibular joint, including the muscles of the neck. This pain can also be accompanied by stiffness, a popping or crunching noise when you turn your head, and that “crick in the neck” feeling where you’re unable to move your head from side to side.


Do you ever experience unexplained ringing in the ears? Ringing that may or may not be accompanied by other problems like dizziness, loss of balance and inner-ear pain or pressure? This condition is called tinnitus, but knowing its name is only half the battle. While many things may cause tinnitus, one cause that many people aren’t aware of is TMJD. Temporomandibular joint disorders often cause tinnitus because the temporomandibular joint is located very close to the ear. Thus, when your TMJ is in pain or spasm, it can reverberate through your head, neck and even ears.

Sleep Disorders

According to, an estimated 22 million Americans suffer from the sleep disorder known as sleep apnea. Though there are several types of sleep apnea, obstructive sleep apnea is the most common type. Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the airway is blocked, causing you to stop breathing. Obstructive sleep apnea is frequently caused by pressure on the throat from excess weight, but it can also be caused by a misaligned jaw due to TMJ disorder. A recent study by the University of Wisconsin at Madison found that people with undiagnosed sleep apnea die from the disorder three times more frequently than those who do not have sleep apnea – which means with TMJD acting as a cause of sleep apnea, untreated TMJD could literally take your life!

Now What?

The good news about TMJ disorders is there is help. Dr. Alexandra George uses neuromuscular dentistry techniques to treat and cure TMJ symptoms. Neuromuscular dentistry can help better align the bite, eliminating the stiffness and tension commonly experienced with TMJ disorders – and it can also help eliminate the symptoms of the many lesser-known side effects of TMJ disorder, too.

If you or someone you love is experiencing any of these symptoms and would like to be evaluated for a TMJ disorder, please give Dr. George’s office a call today at 724-934-3422.

Dr. Alexandra S. George

Medically reviewed by Dr. Alexandra S. George - D.D.S., L.Vl.I.F. on April 25th, 2018