How Can TMJ Affect Your Overall Dental Health? Overview

Jan 04, 2022

The temporomandibular joint is the hinge-like joint that connects the jawbone to the skull. It is located below the ears and aids in opening and closing the mouth. This joint is easily injured or damaged, resulting in a disorder known as temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD). The TMD can affect your overall dental health. Here is more on TMJ disorders.

Symptoms of TMJ Disorder

Symptoms of the TMJ disorder vary slightly from individual to individual based on the severity and causes. Some of the most common symptoms of the disorder include:

  • Pain or tenderness when opening the mouth
  • Aching pain in and around your ear
  • The jaw locking in a specific position
  • Facial pain
  • Discomfort when biting down
  • Persistent toothaches or headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Swelling around the cheeks and jaw

Causes of TMD

TMD can be caused by:

  • Dental trauma

After dental trauma, your temporomandibular joint may start malfunctioning. As a result, you may begin experiencing the symptoms associated with the TMJ disorder.

  • Jaw clenching and teeth-grinding

Patients who have these stress-induced habits affect their TMJ, causing the disorder. For example, clenching your teeth or grinding your jaw places extra pressure on this joint, creating pain and tension.

  • Arthritis 

When arthritis spreads to your jaw joints, it leads to TMJ disorder. 

How TMD Affects Your Overall Dental Health

The temporomandibular joint disorder can affect your dental health. It may cause functional and aesthetic problems in your mouth. The disorder can:

  • Cause misalignment issues

Your teeth will begin shifting to accommodate the added pressure on your jaws. Once they move out of their proper position, you may have issues such as teeth misalignment. Your bite will be affected, therefore preventing you from maintaining good oral hygiene. Apart from disrupted dental care, the pain and headache symptoms will increase.

  • Destroy your tooth enamel

Most patients have this disorder as a result of teeth-grinding. Grinding the teeth contributes to the wearing down of your tooth enamel. When the enamel is worn down, teeth become exposed to dental decay, gum infections, and disease. These will affect your dental health adversely. 

TMJ Diagnosis

Due to the various symptoms exhibited by this disorder, dentists often misdiagnose it. Unfortunately, misdiagnosis leads to wrong treatment options. They will be ineffective or even worsen the condition. Therefore, you must locate a TMJ specialist near you who is experienced in diagnosing and treating TMD.

Proper diagnosis requires talking to the patient to know their symptoms and dental concerns. Then, diagnosis involves digital x-rays, CT scans, MRIs, assessing jaw movement and observing the range of motion in the jaw. 

TMJ Treatment

Your treatment options for TMD by the dentist in Anchorage, AK, may include:

  • Wearing a night mouthguard

This device is worn as you sleep to keep you from grinding your teeth or clenching the jaw. The customized mouthguard is worn between the lower and upper jaws. It absorbs the pressure when you grind your teeth or clench your jaw. In addition, a nightguard eases the pain caused by TMD.

  • Orthodontics

Your dentist may opt for orthodontic treatments to help restore teeth alignment. When your teeth are at their proper position, the TMD symptoms will keep from worsening.

  • BOTOX®

The TMJ specialist near you can use BOTOX to treat the temporomandibular disorder. Since it is a muscle relaxant, BOTOX can calm the jaw muscles and keep them from contracting. Regular injections of the solution on the jaw muscles will relax them, allowing you to open and close the mouth without discomfort.

  • Physical therapy and medication

Your TMJ disorders expert may provide physical therapy alongside oral medications. Anti-inflammatory medicine and muscle relaxants can ease the pain. The exercises will strengthen the jaw muscles allowing them to move freely.

  • Surgery

Surgery is usually reserved for severe cases of TMD. The procedure will target your current symptoms. If the jaw locks due to the disorder, surgery is performed to prevent further locking. The procedure may also be performed to reduce the friction in the joints as they move.

Risk Factors of TMD

Certain factors increase the risk of developing TMD. They include:

  • Chronic grinding of teeth and clenching of the jaw
  • Jaw injury and trauma
  • Rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis
  • Connective tissue diseases

Benefits of TMJ Treatment

Below are some reasons to seek TMJ disorders treatment at Anchorage Dental Arts.

  • Your overall dental health and overall health are enhanced.
  • Chronic discomforts caused by the symptoms of TMD are alleviated.
  • You will speak and chew comfortably.
  • The risk of dental damage is reduced.
  • Your quality of life will be improved.