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TMJ Disorder: Long Term Effects

Feb 01, 2022

TMJ is an acronym for temporomandibular joint. The temporomandibular joint is a hinge joint located on each side of the head in front of the ears that connects the jawbone to the skull. The joint is responsible for the up and down and side to side movement of your jaw. Hence, it enables you to chew, speak, yawn, and carry out whatever action involves the use of your jaw. If you feel pain while chewing or speaking, it might result from a temporomandibular joint disorder, and you should immediately opt for TMJ treatment near you.

TMJ disorder is the temporomandibular jaw dysfunction that occurs due to inflammation or irritation of the ligaments and muscles around your jaw joints. That causes compromised jaw movement and pain and discomfort when you chew, speak, or move your jaw. Many people confuse TMJ with TMD; however, it is essential to note that TMJ is the temporomandibular joint, and TMD is the dysfunction of the TMJ. Temporomandibular jaw disorder treatment is known as TMD therapy.

Symptoms Of TMJ Disorder

The following are signs that you might see indicating that you have a TMJ disorder:

  • Swelling on the side of your face.
  • Tinnitus (Ringing in your ears).
  • Severe headache, earache, and toothache.
  • Malocclusion (misalignment of the teeth).
  • Jaw dislocation or jaw locking in an “open” or “close” mouth position.
  • Pain in your neck or shoulders.
  • Jaw pain and tenderness in your jaw.
  • Clicking, grating, or popping sounds from your jaw joint while chewing or performing other jaw functions.
  • Muscle spasms in the jaw.

Causes Of TMJ Disorder

As painful and dangerous as TMJ disorder can be, it does not have a known leading cause and might vary in individuals. However, known factors are associated with the pain felt when you have TMD. These include but are not limited to:

  • Injury from trauma: An injury to the jaw, joints, or muscles of the head and neck can lead to TMD.
  • Dislocation of the soft disc/cushion between the ball and socket joint.
  • Malocclusion: This is known as the misalignment of the teeth and jaws that leads to an improper bite. It is a leading factor for temporomandibular jaw disorder.
  • Excessive gum chewing: Chewing gum too much can lead to inflammation and irritation of the ligaments and muscles around your jaw joints.
  • Poor Posture.
  • Arthritis and other inflammatory musculoskeletal disorders: Arthritis is the joint inflammation that causes stiffness or pain. If this occurs in the TMJ, it can lead to TMD.
  • Stress or anxiety.
  • Heredity (Genetic Causes).

Diagnosis Of TMJ

The symptoms of TMJ can also be associated with other oral conditions. However, if it persists, you might have to visit a dentist in Auburn or a dentist near you for a full diagnosis. To diagnose TMJ, Dr. Mark Summerford might ask a few questions about your health history and existing oral conditions before performing a physical examination. The physical examination starts with the checking of your jaws joints for pain and tenderness. While ensuring that your jaws are working as they should, your dentist will check for clicking, popping, or grating sounds.

For confirmation, a dentist in 36830 might employ MRI scans, CT scans, and a full-face x-ray to diagnose TMJ.

Long Term Effects Of TMJ

If left untreated, TMD has adverse long-term effects and consequences. These include:

  • Development of an airway sleep disorder: TMJ, when caused by malocclusion, compromises the quality of your sleep because your jaws are not sitting in their proper position. That can infringe on your airway and result in you getting less oxygen through to your brain. Over time, this can lead to an airway sleep disorder.
  • Chronic jaw pain: TMJ disorder causes pain in your jaw. Leaving it untreated can worsen this pain and make it constant for a long time.
  • Hearing damage and loss: The jaw, through the TMJ, is connected to the skull close to the location of the ear canal. The area surrounding the ear canal can become affected by the symptoms of TMJ because of how sensitive they are.
  • Recurring migraine headaches: The TMJ connects the jaw to the skull; therefore, as long as TMD is left untreated, there will be cases of frequent headaches and migraines.
  • Discomfort in the neck, back, and shoulder areas: Despite being a problem in the face area, TMD can cause you pain throughout other parts of your body.

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