Dr. Long

A: Doctors suggest several ways to perform a self-test for possible TMJ problems. While looking in the mirror, open and close your mouth. It should move straight up and down without deviating to one side.

Press on your TM joint, the facial area, jaw area, neck and temple area. None of this should cause pain, tenderness or soreness.

Open your mouth (not so wide that it hurts) and insert one finger, then two then three. Normal opening is three fingers without pain or force. Also, opening and closing your mouth should be silent WITHOUT popping, grating or any joint sounds.

Place your little fingers into your ear canals (pad of fingertips forward gently while opening your mouth). You shouldn’t be able to feel creaking, pain or popping.

Does your jaw joint(s) hurt when you chew, or do you wake up with sore muscles?

Do you frequently have headaches?

If you checked two or more items, it may indicate a suspicion of a TM joint disorder. It’s important to be evaluated by a dentist or doctor knowledgeable about this disorder. A joint dysfunction doesn’t get better on its own or by ignoring it. Early treatment is the most successful and least expensive.