Temporomandibular joints (TMJ) are found in front of the ears on both sides of your face. The joints connect the lower jawbone to the skull and help facilitate movements such as when you speak or chew. When the joints and nearby ligaments and muscles are affected, such as by trauma, medical conditions like arthritis, bruxism or wear and tear, you are likely to experience TMJ disorder. The disorder is characterized by ear and headaches, facial pain, and jaw tenderness, to name a few concerns. If you experience any symptoms, a visit to Dr. Barry Chase for professional diagnosis, intervention, and treatment is recommendable. This is more so considering the potential complications you are exposed to if TMJ disorder is left unattended. The common concerns include:
Chronic jaw pain
Jaw pain may be why you suspect you have TMJ disorder, and while it might be tolerable, it only worsens with time. Initially, you may experience acute pain that comes and goes, but with time, the brain signals are impacted, constantly showing something is wrong. This results in constant pain, and as the signal increases, chronic pain kicks in, impacting the quality of your life.
Waking up with a headache or migraine impacts the rest of your day, and with untreated TMJ, this becomes a routine. This results from the inflamed muscles surrounding the joints running down into the neck and back from the skull. The longer TMJ remains untreated, the more the inflammation and damage. This can cause severe and more frequent headaches and migraines.
Improper bite leading to a misaligned jaw is among the top TMJ causes. The jaws can block the airways when misaligned, especially when you sleep. This can lead to obstructive sleep apnea, significant sleep disorders that expose you to severe health risks, including cardiovascular disease. Besides such risks, snoring and lack of enough sleep impacts your productivity since you will feel fatigued, be irritable, and battle daytime sleepiness the next day, affecting the quality of your life. This gets worse if you include tinnitus in the equation, a persistent ringing noise not emanating from an external source.
Impacts dental health
TMJ is commonly accompanied by grinding and clenching, especially in your sleep. This wears down your teeth, resulting in cracks and fractures. TMJ leads to other concerns like receding gums which increases tooth sensitivity. This makes oral hygiene, including brushing and flossing, a challenge, further increasing dental health concerns. When left untreated, the impacts grow and may need extensive restorative dentistry to repair your smile and dental function.
Your jaw hurts, impacting your dietary quests. You will likely stick to soft and liquid meals as the bite and chew functions are impacted. This significantly reduces your options, which can result in malnutrition. Nutrient deficiencies require no emphasis; it puts your overall health at risk.
If untreated, TMJ can significantly impact your overall health, including leading to drug abuse as you strive to manage the consequential chronic pain. Immediate attention is recommended, ensuring it is treated when less invasive options are still viable. Contact Chase Dental Sleepcare for more on TMJ and available treatments.