TMJ refers to your temporomandibular joint, which is the hinge joint of your jaw. This complex joint in your jaw can move up and down, forward and backward, and side to side. TMJ disorder is when this hinge is not working correctly. It can cause pain in your jaw, cheeks, face, neck, and shoulders. You may also have earaches, popping in the jaw, and experience very painful lockjaw. Headaches are also common with TMJ disorder; these headaches can be similar to migraines with pain behind the eyes and pain in the temples.
The exact cause of TMJ disorder is hard to determine as it varies from person to person. It can be brought on by arthritis. It can also be caused by a misalignment of the upper and lower ridges of teeth. TMJ disorder can also be caused by an accident or injury to the area. Commonly, people who grind their teeth (also known as bruxism) can be at a higher risk for developing TMJ disorder. Grinding your teeth is often the result of clenching your jaw together tightly, which can lead to excessive wear and tear to the jaw joint and your teeth. TMJ disorder can also be a cause of bruxism, so the two disorders go hand in hand.
Bruxism is a sleep disorder because most grinding of the teeth is done subconsciously while you are sleeping. Not only is bruxism related to pain and complications in the jaw, but it can lead to serious damage to your teeth. The friction from the grinding can lead to tiny fractures in the teeth that can increase your risk of breakage and tooth decay. These tiny fractures can also cause an increased sensitivity of your teeth to hot, cold, or sweet foods or drinks. Because of this danger to your teeth and jaw, it is important to treat bruxism. Your dentist can create a custom mouth piece that can help prevent grinding friction from causing damage.
Talk to Dr. Carmona if you think you may be suffering from TMJ disorder. To schedule a consultation with Austin Prosthodontics in Austin, TX, call 512-250-9444. We also proudly welcome patients from Cedar Park, Round Rock, Pflugerville, Leander, and all surrounding Texas communities.