You’re going about your day when something feels a little off. You decide to bite into an apple when – ouch! Something in your mouth isn’t right.

So, like many of us love to do, you consult Google. The two most likely diagnoses? Temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ) and tooth decay.

But how do you distinguish pain caused by TMJ and something else, like dental caries or gingivitis, the early stages of gum disease? And, if it is TMJ, what are your first steps to fixing the problem?

Portrait of a young woman holding her cheek at the dentist office. Is the pain she's having related to a cavity or is it something more serious like TMJ. Either way it's important to schedule an appointment with Tarrytown TMJ dentists Dr. Wanda Mejia and Dr. George Sepiashvili.

Knowing Your Symptoms

Unfortunately, it can be difficult to differentiate feelings in our mouth. It’s a relatively small area, and we typically can’t see the root of the problem just by looking in the mirror. This difficulty is amplified by the fact that tooth decay, which sometimes needs root canal therapy, oftentimes exhibits the same pain and similar symptoms as TMJ. So, how do you distinguish the two?

While the only way to tell for sure is by visiting your dentist at Advanced Dentistry of Tarrytown, who can expertly diagnose and treat your condition, there are a few ways to tell the difference so you’re doing your best to mitigate the symptoms while you wait for your appointment.

Know Your Habits

Perhaps the best way to know whether your pain is caused by TMJ or tooth decay is by thinking about your habits. Are you a frequent tooth grinder and do you often slouch, exhibiting a forward-head posture? At the same time, do you take great care of your teeth by flossing once daily and brushing twice each day? You’re most likely dealing with TMJ.

Think About the Symptoms

Yes, TMJ and tooth decay do share quite a few symptoms. However, there are a few tell-tale symptoms of each condition. If you’re experiencing tinnitus, frequent headaches, muscle weakness in the jaw, popping and clicking the jaw, irregular jaw motion, or lockjaw, TMJ is more likely. TMJ pain is also associated with pain in the temporomandibular joint, which is close to your ear.

On the other hand, pain caused by tooth decay is more fixed around the affected tooth or teeth. Tooth decay can also cause your tooth to be sensitive to heat or cold. If drinking ice water or your morning hot coffee is painful, you likely have dental caries or decay. You may also notice that the affected tooth or teeth is darkening.

We Can Treat Your TMJ or Tooth Decay

No pain in the mouth is normal. If you’re experiencing tooth sensitivity, frequent headaches or pain in the jaw, it’s time to schedule an appointment to the dentist. We can diagnose and treat TMJ or tooth decay.

In cases of TMJ, we have multiple treatment options that fit with your lifestyle and can get you back to normal. Whether that treatment plan includes changing up your routine to be more mindful of your oral health, administering TENS therapy, orthotics or something more, Drs. George Sepiashvili and Wanda Mejia can get you feeling well again.

To schedule an appointment with Advanced Dentistry in Tarrytown about your tooth or jaw pain, please call (914) 332-4402 or send us an email today.