The TMJ is the temporomandibular joint—a rotating and sliding joint that connects the side of your skull to your lower jawbone. TMJ disorder or dysfunction occurs when the joint is damaged, worn, or inflamed. Estimates show that 12 percent of the U.S. population, or about 35 million people, are affected by TMJ disorder. What are the causes and symptoms? Can TMJ be prevented?
What Causes TMJ?
Although the exact cause of TMJ dysfunction is unknown, certain factors are associated with it, including:
- Arthritis (rheumatoid and osteoarthritis)
- Injury or trauma to the jaw or neck
- Malocclusion caused by a poorly fitting dental filling or crown
- Misaligned bite
- Teeth grinding (bruxism) or clenching
- Sustained or repetitious habits, including cheek sucking, nail biting, lip biting, or poor posture
There are many symptoms of TMJ disorder. You don’t have to experience all of them to be affected by the disorder.
- Difficulty closing teeth together
- Eye pain or blurred vision
- Facial pain or numbness
- Jaw popping, or clicking, or locking
- Neck pain
- Painful chewing
- Ringing in the ears
- Tooth pain
If your bite is misaligned and left untreated, you might begin to experience TMJ symptoms. Dr. Thomas will register and evaluate your bite. He will ask you to bite down on a piece of mylar color-transfer paper to register your bite. It will reveal if there are places where your upper and lower teeth are not touching.
If necessary, Dr. Thomas will remove a very thin top layer of the chewing surface of the affected teeth to improve your bite. In severe cases, he may recommend orthodontic treatment or options to replace missing teeth. Resolving the issues below can prevent TMJ disorder:
- Severe overjet
- Anterior open bite
- Posterior crossbite
- Missing back teeth
You can avoid the pain and discomfort of TMJ disorder. Call us to schedule an appointment for an exam with Dr. Thomas or complete our Request an Appointment form.