How Does TMJ Disorder Impact Oral Health?

TMJ disorder, also referred to as TMD, is an oral health issues related to the jaw joints. Without treatment, what appears to be a minor health issue could lead to serious complications, including major discomfort. In today’s blog, your Des Moines, IA, dentist discusses the impact of TMJ disorder and how we treat this oral health issue.

TMD and Oral Health Complications

Our temporomandibular joints control the movements needed to eat and speak. TMJ disorder occurs when these same joints undergo excessive strain, which eventually causes pain and difficulty when eating or even opening and closing the mouth. In addition, untreated TMD could increase the likelihood of bruxism forming. Chronic teeth grinding not only causes discomfort, but could eventually wear down tooth enamel or crack and chip a tooth, leading to a higher risk of tooth decay and gum disease. Causes of jaw joint strain vary, but could include anxiety, tooth loss, misalignment, bite imbalance, or injury to the face or jaw. If you already grind your teeth, then TMD could develop as a result of the pressure from bruxism.

Headaches and Other Symptoms

People with TMD may report frequent headaches or migraines, as well as a popping or clicking sensation in the jaw. Other symptoms could consist of pain in the neck, face, jaw, or neck and shoulders. Tooth sensitivity and toothaches could develop if you also grind your teeth or clench your jaw. If you begin to experience one or more of these potential symptoms, then contact our team for a diagnosis. We will examine your smile, assessing your jaw joints and identifying any wear and friction on the teeth to decide if you need treatment, and to recommend the most appropriate solution.

Treatment Options and Lifestyle Changes

For some, a warm compress to ease tension in the jaws, avoiding caffeine products, and cutting back on chewy foods can have a beneficial impact. Others may need to correct misalignment with braces or aligners, or replace missing teeth. Placing a restoration could also help by improving bite balance. But the most common solution is an oral appliance, a device very similar in fit and appearance to a mouthguard. Worn at night and custom-made to fit your smile, the appliance will actually move and reposition the jaw to ease tension and prevent further symptoms. If you have any questions about identifying and treating TMJ disorder, or if you’ve experienced any of the symptoms we’ve discussed, then contact our team today.

Do You Have Questions About TMD?

Don’t let a common jaw joint disorder lead to serious complications, such as headaches and damaged smiles. For more information on our preventive treatment options, schedule a consultation with Dr. Burds by calling Gateway Dental Group in downtown Des Moines, IA, at (515) 244-9565.