Causes and Symptoms of TMJ Disorder
Teeth grinding, stress, and dental misalignment are some of the most common causes of temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder. Along with jaw pain, sufferers also experience ear pain, headaches, and many other side effects. After determining the underlying reason for your discomfort, Dr. Bill Stofer can recommend a personalized and highly effective treatment.
Causes of TMJ Disorder
The joint inflammation associated with TMJ disorder can result from:
- Teeth grinding: Also known as bruxism, teeth grinding and jaw clenching are major contributors to TMJ disorder. If you constantly strain your jaw, the pressure on your joints can damage their overall structure or inflame the surrounding tissues.
- Jaw misalignment: An overbite, underbite, misaligned teeth, or missing teeth can cause your top and bottom dental arches to meet improperly. In turn, your jaw joints must overcompensate in order to achieve proper balance, and this prolonged strain can result in TMJ disorder symptoms.
- Arthritis: Osteoarthritis can cause the cartilage inside your joint to wear away. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder that can lead to joint inflammation and bone erosion.
- Facial injury: In some cases, a blow to the face can damage your jaw joints or dislodge the cushioning discs. You may experience this type of injury in a car or sporting accident. Whiplash can also lead to TMJ disorder because it could strain or tear your ligaments.
- Poor posture: If you sit with your head pushed forward (often a result of prolonged computer use), it can place tremendous pressure on your jaw joints.
Symptoms of TMJ Disorder
TMJ disorder can result in a variety of painful symptoms. The side effects that you experience will often depend on the cause of your condition. Jaw pain is the most common sign of TMJ disorder, although this pain can manifest itself in different ways. It may be chronic and throbbing, or it could send sharp, shooting pain across your lower face. Often, pain will migrate to your neck, shoulders, and upper back.
Other symptoms of TMJ disorder can include:
- Ear pain
- Ringing in your ears (tinnitus)
- A clicking noise when you move your jaw
- A stiff jaw or the inability to open your mouth all the way
- Chronic headaches
"Our dentists will conduct a careful analysis of your symptoms and your jaws to help you find a solution."
Treating TMJ Disorder
Dr. Stofer will suggest a treatment for your TMD based on the cause of your condition. Bite therapy using oral appliances is the most common option. After taking impressions of your teeth, your dentist will provide a custom-made device that will realign your jaw. By pushing your lower mandible forward, your appliance will reduce the pressure on your joints. Alternatively, your dentist may simply provide a device that will keep your teeth from touching, preventing bruxism.
Restorative dentistry is another option, either alone or in conjunction with bite therapy. Crowns, bridges, and implants can restore damaged teeth or replace missing teeth. At the same time, they will redistribute the force along your dental arches to achieve proper balance. Invisalign® can also be prescribed to improve the balance of your bite.
Contact Us for an Evaluation
If you are experiencing jaw pain or any other symptoms of TMJ disorder, contact us online or call (574) 269-1199 to schedule a consultation. Our dentists will conduct a careful analysis of your symptoms and your jaws to help you find a solution.