TMJ disorder is when the muscles, bones, teeth, and nerves of your jaw system do not work together properly. This may not seem like a serious problem, but the consequences can be far-reaching, from headaches to poor posture. The sheer number of symptoms caused by TMJ may seem improbable, until you understand how the disorder works and the mechanisms that cause its widespread symptoms.
This page contains some technical information about TMJ disorder, but many people understand the information better if they talk to a dentist about it in person. To schedule a consultation to talk to our dentists, who are experienced in TMJ treatment, please call 509-532-1111 (Spokane) or 509-927-2273 (Spokane Valley) or email Collins Dentistry & Aesthetics today.
The Mechanism of TMJ
TMJ is temporomandibular joint disorder, also known as TMD. Your temporomandibular joints are the joints on either side of your skull, where the jawbone attaches. These two joints have to work in concert in a way unlike that of any other joint in the body. They also have to perform more complex maneuvers than most of your joints, moving up and down, forward and back, and side to side. They have to participate in speaking, chewing, breathing, and swallowing, being called on hundreds of times a day to perform those various tasks. They accomplish these tasks as well as their role in helping to stabilize your head by working in concert with muscles in your head and neck.
Your temporomandibular joints are also at the most important crossroads of the body. Important nerves, blood vessels, and your airway pass right by these joints.
In TMJ, the imbalance in your jaw can impact your body in many ways. First, because jaw muscles partner with head and neck muscles, imbalance in your jaw can affect the function of those other muscles.
Next, imbalance in your jaw can impinge on nerves running nearby, especially the trigeminal nerve, which is known to be the trigger point for migraine headaches.
Finally, imbalance in your jaw can result in imbalance in your neck vertebrae. This imbalance can then travel down your spine, with your vertebrae coming out of alignment in your body’s attempt to maintain stability. Think of it like a stack of blocks—if one is off, other blocks may have to move in other directions to restore stability. When your vertebrae are not straight, they can pinch nerves leaving the spinal column.
What Causes TMJ Disorder?
So how does your jaw get imbalanced in the first place? There are many potential causes of TMJ, including:
- Trauma from an accident, such as a car accident
- Intubation and other healthcare measures that can dislodge the jaw
- Congenital or developmental poor bite
- Bad habits like nail biting or chewing pencils
- Stress and bite-related tooth grinding (bruxism)
- Poor dental restorations
Unfortunately, many of the causes of TMJ are also the effects of TMJ. If you grind your teeth, it can cause TMJ, which makes your tooth grinding worse. TMJ can also damage your teeth, and if you get poor fitting dental restorations, they can worsen your TMJ further.
TMJ Is Treatable
Fortunately, TMJ is treatable. At Collins Dentistry & Aesthetics, we offer TMJ treatment to patients in Spokane and Spokane Valley. We are happy to see our patients recover from the painful, even debilitating symptoms of TMJ. We would like to help you with your TMJ disorder, too.
Please contact Collins Dentistry & Aesthetics today to schedule an appointment at our Spokane or Spokane Valley office.