TMJ affects 10 million Americans
If you have had difficulties chewing, talking and sometimes even smiling, you may be one of 10 million Americans who suffer from temporal mandibular joint (TMJ) disorder. Temporal refers to the temple area of the skull; mandibular refers to the mandible or lower jaw; and joint refers to where the head and jaw meet. Problems in the mandibular joint may be caused by a misalignment of the teeth, trauma to your jaw or mouth, or excess muscle tension. Aside from the two bones that meet at this joint, cartilage buffers them and five muscles are involved in every movement of this area. If something goes wrong, a good deal of trouble can result. Problems in this area can cause:
- Trouble/soreness in opening and closing the mouth
- Clicking or popping of the jaw
- Pain in the jaw muscles
- Soreness in the area, sometimes extending to the face
- Migraine headaches
Causes of TMJ Disorder
The causes of TMJ Disorder can be difficult to correctly diagnose, so it is important to let your dentist know if you are experiencing any discomfort in that area or having problems chewing or talking. There are some factors that increase your risk of developing TMJ Disorder, including your age and gender. Women between the ages of 20 and 50 have are statistically shown to be at higher risk for TMJ Disorder. If you are someone who grinds your teeth, bites your nails, has a constant gum-chewing habit, sleeps on one side of your face or yawns widely, you are increasing your risk for TMJ Disorder. Accidents or any trauma to your head or mouth area could also lead to the development of TMJ Disorder. Another very common cause or increased risk factor is stress. Experiencing stress can cause excess muscle tension in your jaw.
There is no single solution that is right for everyone. Your dentist may recommend replacing missing teeth, moving teeth, adjusting your bite, filling gaps in between teeth or removing wisdom teeth. Sometimes a plastic mouthpiece is used to prevent clenching or grinding that might be contributing to the TMJ Disorder. If left untreated, your dentist may have to recommend surgery to repair a badly damaged joint.
If you’ve been experiencing tension, pain or discomfort in your jaw, come in and let the expert dentists at Stannard & Studt & Wolf Dentistry help you get some relief!