How TMJ can affect your oral health
Oral health doesn’t stop at your teeth and gums.
If you have a problem with your bite, if your jaw locks or clicks, or if you feel pain or discomfort when eating and talking, there could be a problem with your temporomandibular joints (TMJ).
What is TMJ disorder?
The TMJ are two of the most important and complex joints in your body. Located on each side of the head, just in front of the ears, these are the joints that allow your jaw to move and to function.
TMD (temporomandibular disorder) occurs when something prevents these joints from working properly. These problems can involve a range of symptoms, such as:
- pain when moving the jaw
- headaches, earaches or pressure behind the eyes
- popping, clicking or locking of the jaw
- misalignment or crooked bite.
TMD symptoms may be mild or severe, and may occur infrequently, constantly or during times of stress. However severe your symptoms are, it’s recommended that you speak to your dentist about TMJ treatments to prevent further discomfort and avoid putting your oral health at risk.
What are the oral health risks of TMD?
If a TMJ disorder affects how your teeth align within your jaws malocclusion, this can have a serious impact on your long-term oral health.
Teeth that are not properly aligned can feel painful or uncomfortable when they come into contact with each other. Tooth surfaces may also be more prone to wear and damage, and the strain this puts on your muscles and joints can make TMJ symptoms worse.
Having an irregular bite can also affect your suitability for dental treatments such as dental implants.
What causes TMJ disorders?
Before your dentist can recommend a treatment option, they need to know what’s causing your TMD
TMD is often multifactorial is nature and it’s not always possible to know exactly what’s causing your condition. In most cases, getting out of bad habits or making changes to your lifestyle are all that’s needed to alleviate the worst TMJ symptoms.
Common causes of TMD are:
- injury to the temporomandibular joints
- osteoarthritis or similar conditions damaging the cartilage
- a misaligned bite or worn and damaged teeth putting pressure on the joints
- chronic teeth grinding and jaw clenching (bruxism).
How is TMD treated?
When you visit your dentist for your routine oral examination, they will inform you if you have symptoms that could indicate TMD, such as worn teeth or a misaligned bite. The diagnosis will involve taking images using dental x-rays and possibly a CBCT or MRI scan, to give your dentist a detailed look at the cartilage and soft tissues of the joints.
If your TMD is caused by a bite issue, orthodontic treatment such as braces will be recommended to bring your teeth and jaw correctly in line.
If you have the habit of clenching your jaw or grinding your teeth (a condition called bruxism), your dentist may recommend that you wear a special dental splint (not mouthguard) or dental orthotic at night to protect your teeth and ease the strain on your jaw. Teeth grinding is often related to stress and anxiety, so trying to avoid these feelings in your daily life could also help to alleviate your TMJ problem.
If you are suffering from chronic TMD symptoms, jaw surgery may be required.
Speak to a dentist in Melbourne
If you think you might have temporomandibular disorder or any other oral health problem, get in touch with our Melbourne dentists at All Day Every Day Dental.
Call our clinics in Brunswick (03) 9380 2903and in Kew (03) 9853 1811 or make an appointment online.