TMJ Health Risks
The TMJs (temporomandibular joints) are the sliding, double-hinged joints that allow us to open and close our mouths. Located at the front of each ear, the TMJs help us to chew food and move the jaw in every direction. Medical professionals classify TMD (temporomandibular joint disorder) by discomfort and limited motion in the TMJs.
When the TMJs are not properly aligned, negative effects can be widespread throughout the body. However, the condition is treatable.
At Cosmetic Dentistry of New Mexico in Albuquerque, NM, Dr. Byron Wall has state-of-the-art tools, technology, and training to treat TMJ disorder and prevent TMJ health risks.
Here are four health hazards that may arise if TMJ disorders are left untreated:
Many patients with TMJ disorders experience bruxism (grinding and clenching the teeth and jaw). Excessive teeth grinding can lead to:
- Eroded enamel
- Craze lines in enamel
- Cracked teeth
- Chipped teeth
Often, teeth grinding occurs during sleep, so patients often do not realize that it's happening.
However, when people sleep, the brain's rational part does not regulate the jaw’s movements. During sleep, people can exert up to 10 times more force than they do during normal chewing. Nighttime teeth grinding causes dental damage over an extended period.
When TMJ pain becomes intense, chewing food can be uncomfortable. This leads to having to consume softer foods. Fresh veggies, fruit, and many proteins require significant chewing forces to effectively break down food for swallowing and digestion. Because of this, TMJ disorder can interfere with a nutritious diet.
Feeling discomfort or difficulty while opening the mouth is a common sign of TMD. If you feel clicking, popping, or locking while closing your mouth or opening wide, TMD may be the cause.
Stress on the TMJs can cause chronic pain. Muscle tension creates this discomfort and can affect the way you breathe, eat, and talk. Some examples of TMD-associated pain include:
- Facial discomfort (between the jaw and skull)
- Neck and shoulder tenderness
- Headaches and migraines
- Post-chewing soreness
The TMJs are next to the temporal bone, which includes the inner ear. Constant pressure on the nerves and blood vessels in this area causes worsening ear-related symptoms, which can include:
- Hearing the jaw pop and click
- Vertigo and equilibrium issues
- Plugged ears
- Tinnitus (ear ringing)
Rest is essential to good health and productivity, but TMJ issues may trigger some sleep disorders. Obstructive sleep apnea is highly prevalent in patients with temporomandibular disorders. TMD is also related to chronic fatigue syndrome, which can aggravate sleep apnea and overall health.
Untreated TMJ disorders are serious. You might need to go to the emergency room if:
- Your jaw becomes permanently locked
- The jaw dislocates when the condyle (ball) moves too far from the socket
Treat TMJ Now in Albuquerque
Early intervention of TMJ disorders may prevent chronic pain and disability. Call (505) 883-4488 or message us online to discuss TMJ disorder treatment with Dr. Wall in Albuquerque.