Temporomandibular Joint dysfunction (TMJ) is a common problem in the modern world. Many people experience the muscle pain, headaches, discomfort and other effects of having a dysfunction at the temporomandibular joint, or the place where their jaw bones meet. This can be due to tooth grinding, a musculoskeletal disorder, or even the need for orthodontia. Regardless of the cause of your TMJ dysfunction, it can have the following effects on your teeth:
1. Corrosion of Teeth
TMJ misalignment usually leads to an incorrect bite, in which the teeth of the upper and lower jaws do not meet up as they are intended to. This can lead to severe headaches and muscle pain, but also increased wear and tear on teeth. Every time a person with misaligned teeth chews, they are rubbing off enamel from surfaces that were not designed to handle such friction. Over time, this can lead to discoloration, chipping, erosion, and other dental problems. Many people with ongoing dental problems do not realize that TMJ issues are the root cause.
2. Difficulties with Routine Dental Care
Clicking and locking joints make it difficult to move. In addition, muscle spasms can reduce mobility. This is particularly true at the jaw, which is the most used joint in the human body. Caring properly for teeth requires being able to open wide and move your jaws effectively. TMJ dysfunction can make this painful or even impossible. As a result, many people with TMJ cannot floss as effectively. Over time, the lack of routine hygiene can have a huge effect on your dental health. It can lead to increased cavities, gum disease, and even life-threatening infections.
Correcting TMJ can mean a decrease in pain and locking. In addition, it allows you to perform the routine dental care that is essential to your whole body health. A lack of mobility is never acceptable, especially not at a joint needed for eating, drinking, speech, and facial expressions.
3. Cracking and Chipping
Many people with TMJ dysfunction grind their teeth or clench their jaw. In many cases, this occurs at night, when they may not even be aware of it. If you wake up with jaw or dental pain, you may be unknowingly harming your teeth while you are asleep. In many cases, correcting TMJ dysfunction can lead to a decrease or complete stop of these common and damaging behaviors.
Our jaw muscles are incredibly strong, among the strongest muscles in our bodies in fact. Our teeth are small and vulnerable in comparison. As a result, grinding and clenching teeth puts a huge amount of force on them. This can lead to cracks, chips, and other unsightly damage. This damage is often in the back teeth, where it is not as easily noticed. Some people do not notice damage to their molars until they need a root canal or other major dental work to correct it.
4. Increased Sensitivity
Some people naturally have more sensitive teeth. Most people, however, have sensitive teeth because there is small and correctable damage. Because TMJ can cause long term damage to teeth, increased sensitivity to temperature or substances may be the first sign. Our teeth are coated with enamel, which coats them and keeps them from directly contacting much of what we eat and drink. When this enamel is damaged or worn away, the unprotected parts of our teeth are exposed to anything we put in our mouth. The pain of sensitive teeth is a sign that something is wrong, and an opportunity to make changes before more expensive permanent damage occurs.
If you believe that your teeth are being affected by TMJ dysfunction, an experienced dental surgeon can help. Marc Lazare, DDS is a board certified dental surgeon in New York City offering effective and attractive treatment for both TMJ dysfunction and its resulting dental issues.