It can be easy to take our bodies for granted: we don’t realize how important each part of the body is until one of those parts has trouble. Depending on the issue, basic daily activities can become painful and difficult. As orthodontists, we specialize in the teeth and jaw, so we’re very familiar with their most common troubles. Though many clients come to us wanting straight teeth, that’s only a fraction of what we do. A majority of our work is all about fighting dental issues by helping teeth function the way they were designed to in the first place. Part of that isn’t about the teeth at all; it’s about the jaw that acts as their foundation.
We want to introduce you to your temporomandibular joint, or TMJ. It’s part of the hinge that connects your jaw to your skull, and thanks to its design, you can talk, yawn, and chew. As you can imagine (or may have experienced), when the TMJ has issues, it’s difficult to ignore them. These issues are called temporomandibular joint disorders, or TMD.
The Causes of TMD
Dentists aren’t sure what exactly causes TMD because there are many different culprits. We do know that injuries cause TMD — injuries to your neck, jaw, or head muscles due to whiplash or a heavy blow. There are other common issues that tend to lead to TMD, including the following:
- Arthritis within the TMJ
- Clenching and grinding your teeth
- Stress that makes you clench your teeth or tighten your jaw muscles
- Improper motion of the disc in the socket of the TMJ
The Symptoms of TMD
TMD is difficult to ignore because it usually causes intense discomfort and pain. It is also difficult to pin down because it can affect one or both sides of your face for a few weeks or a few years. If you’re experiencing TMJ, these are some common symptoms:
- A tired sensation in your face
- Problems with opening your mouth wide
- Swelling on the affected side of your face
- Grating, clicking, or popping noises in the joint when chewing or opening/closing your mouth
- Struggles to chew or the sudden feeling your upper and lower teeth no longer fit correctly
- Tenderness or pain in your jaw joint, shoulders and neck, ears, or face when you talk, chew, or open your mouth wide.
- Jaws that lock in an open or closed position
Other common symptoms include neck aches, dizziness, toothaches, headaches, hearing issues, and ringing in the ears. If you’re struggling with these symptoms, it’s important to see a professional, get x-rays and get to the bottom of what is going on.
Turn to Rogers & Andrews Orthodontics
As orthodontists, we specialize in the function of your teeth, joints, and muscles. We have the knowledge, equipment, and dedication to walk you through whatever discomfort you may be dealing with and into relief. If we need to refer you to an oral surgeon, we can do that, too. No matter what happens, you can rest assured that we will put your interests first. Contact us for your appointment in Thompson today.