TMJ disorder, which gets its name from the temporomandibular joints that it affects, is a common bite dysfunction that can impact millions of people of all ages. However, one of the reasons why it’s more common that people realize is because many patients who have it don’t know they do. Unlike more common oral health concerns, like a cavity or the formation of gum disease, TMJ disorder can lead to a wide range of different symptoms, depending on a number of different factors. Despite this range, there are some common signs that you have TMJ disorder, and should seek treatment for it as soon as possible.
1. Your jaw hurts often
Your temporomandibular joints, or TMJs, are the two large joints that connect your lower jaw (mandible) to your skull. When you open and close your bite, or move your lower jaw as you chew your food, both of your TMJs are meant to move together, providing balance and proper pressure distribution throughout the rest of your oral structures. Anything that interrupts this function or causes one joint to move out of tandem with the other can lead the joints becoming damaged, misaligned, or more. The resulting discomfort can often begin at your jaws, at the point where the joints connect it, and can be a warning sign that TMJ disorder has developed.
2. You find it difficult to chew
The discomfort in your jaw joints and muscles might not be obvious when TMJ disorder first develops. You might first take note of a slightly uncomfortable feeling when your jaws are most active, such as when you’re biting and chewing your food. This repeated action depends largely on your teeth and jaw joints being balanced. Otherwise, your bite can’t properly balance the pressure it exerts, making it more difficult to bite and chew comfortably. The longer the dysfunction is left unaddressed, the more severe your bite’s imbalance and discomfort will become.
3. Your jaw pain’s accompanied by headaches
Jaw pain and discomfort are among the most common forms of TMJ pain because the condition originates within your jaw’s joints. However, the dominant nerve group that’s in close proximity to your TMJs, known as the trigeminal nerve group, has branches that cover almost all of your craniofacial structures. Damaged or imbalanced jaw joints can irritate the nearest part of this nerve group, which can then transfer that discomfort throughout each of the nerves’ paths. As it does so, patients with TMJ disorder often develop chronic headaches and migraines as their condition worsens.
Find out if you have TMJ disorder
TMJ disorder can cause a wide range of potential symptoms, which can vary for every patient. To find out if your aches and pains mean you have TMJ disorder, schedule an appointment by calling Allen & Neumann Family Dentistry in Pella, IA, today at (641) 628-1121.