The jawbone works like the dual hinges you may find in your kitchen cabinet or your front door that has three sets. Your jaw has two, one on each side near your ears.
The jawbone rests against what is called your temporal bone and pivots up and down. There are many tissues that run in-between the two including a set of nerves. When you have TMJ or temporomandibular disorder. You can experience pain in the jaw joint as well as connecting tissue.
Unexplainable Pain and Tenderness
The top two first signs patients notice are pain and tenderness that don't have an easily identifiable cause. For many it is felt on both sides, some can feel it only on one side or the other. The pain is most commonly experienced near the joint area around the ear. It can radiate outwards and create tenderness in the muscles. There are some cases where the facial muscles will experience soreness when the jaw is opened and closed.
Difficulty Chewing or Odd Noises Coming from the Jaw
If you have ever chewed on some gum for a long period of time or you ate something new that you had to chew on for a long period of time. The next day you most likely felt some stiffness in the jaw muscles when you ate. TMJ is similar, except the pain starts to occur without any explainable changes.
There can be a feeling like something is grinding in your jaw when you yawn and open wide. If you start to notice noises while eating and/or opening your mouth, described as a clicking or popping. They can be some of the early signs of TMJ.
If you are experiencing any of the signs above, consulting with your oral specialist can help you come to a definitive conclusion. Most jaw pain is linked to TMJ and seeking medical advice can help remedy the problem.