Although we often take our ability to chew for granted, when you look at the details, it’s surprising how complex the jaw and teeth are. However, if you’ve overstrained your jaw either yawning or taking a bite of food, it becomes immediately apparent the importance of having a normal functioning jaw in our lives. One of the most commonly affected areas due to strain is the temporomandibular joint. The temporomandibular joint is located on either side of the face right in front of the ear and is responsible for keeping your jaw in line, allowing it to move up and down in a controlled motion. Issues affecting the joint or the muscles involved with the movement of the jaw are called temporomandibular joint dysfunctions (TMJ dysfunctions). In this blog, we’re going to take a look at what exactly causes this type of condition and how it can be prevented.
As your top-rated orthodontist, Camilo Riano Orthodontics isn’t just focused on the cosmetic realignment of the teeth. The teeth play an important role in relieving strain on the jaw and allowing for a healthy bite and one way to help with this is through teeth alignment. If you have any questions or you’re ready to schedule an appointment with us, don’t hesitate to give us a call.
What Is The TMD/TMJ?
As aforementioned, TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint and TMD for temporomandibular joint disorders. This joint connects the lower jaw (mandible) to the temporal bone on both sides of the face. There are a whole host of other things in this area including cartilage that helps the muscles control movement, a disc that ensures smooth movement while absorbing shock, and what are called condyles (the round ends of the jaw). All of these components work together to keep the jaw functioning properly.
Essentially, TMD refers to any issue affecting the TMJ or the other components we mentioned such as the discs, muscles, cartilage, or ligaments. Let’s take a look at some of the symptoms of TMD:
- Pain around the joint either when chewing or extended past a certain point
- The jaw gets locked while open or closed
- A sudden change in bite or jaw position
- Muscle spasms or swelling around the joint area
- Frequent headaches or pressure headaches behind the eyes
What Causes TMD?
In the majority of TMD cases, any discomfort is mild and usually goes away with time. Sometimes, lightly massaging the area will help reduce swelling and pain and there will be no need for the help of a medical professional. In other cases, however, TMD is persistent and gets worse with time. If this is the case, you should seek professional care. There are a number of things that are believed to cause TMD and other related problems.
One of the top causes of TMD is an injury sustained to the jaw. No matter what area of the jaw was hit, this can tweak the joint and result in lasting damage to the muscles or nerves in the joint. If this is the case, you will likely experience pain every time you open your mouth and may need medical attention.
Arthritis is another potential cause of TMD. Just like how you can experience arthritis in other joints in your body, your jaw is no exception. Arthritis refers to joint pain and stiffness that’s caused by inflammation.
If you experience a lot of stress in your daily life, this may cause you to clench or strain your jaw muscles unintentionally. This can also lead to something called chronic bruxism (teeth grinding) that can not only damage the jaw muscles but the teeth and jawbone as well. There are a number of other possible causes that medical professionals are looking into such as hormonal imbalances
Speak With Our Orthodontists Today
If you believe you have TMD, it may be the result of misaligned teeth. If teeth are crooked, they can affect your bite resulting in either an overbite or an underbite. This can put a significant amount of stress on the jaw and TMJ. Braces are often the best way to treat this. If you’d like to schedule an appointment, give us a call today.