TMJ disorder affects millions of Americans—particularly women between the ages of 25 and 55. But, despite how common this painful condition is, TMJ disorder is often overlooked or misdiagnosed during medical exams. This TMJ Awareness Month, we’re raising awareness about all things TMJ!
What is TMJ disorder?
TMJ refers to the temporomandibular joints—the place where your jaw connects to your skull. Typically, these joints help your jaw move smoothly in a hinge or sliding motion. However, like any joint, if the TMJ cartilage is misaligned and inflamed, eroded, or has undue pressure placed on it, problems and pain can emerge. Arthritis, stress, malocclusion (misaligned teeth), a bad bite, or injuries to the jaw are all potential causes of TMJ disorder. Plus, any habit that places pressure on the small joints, like teeth grinding and clenching or nail-biting, might cause or exacerbate your pain.
While TMJ disorder can be a standalone condition, your disorder could signal other health problems, like sleep disorders. When the upper and lower jaws are misaligned, the tongue can restrict the airway, leading to snoring and sleep apnea. Since studies show that TMJ disorder and sleep apnea are closely linked, it is important to seek treatment for your best health outcome—especially since untreated sleep apnea is tied to significant health risks.
What are the symptoms of TMJ disorders?
Symptoms of TMJ disorders tend to masquerade as a multitude of other problems, often making it difficult for sufferers to receive a proper diagnosis. Some of the most common symptoms include:
TMJ pain relief
When left undiagnosed and untreated, your TMJ disorder can cause damage to your oral health and degrade your quality of life. Over time, bruxism leads to permanent tooth damage, enamel erosion, and worn-down dentition. And, untreated sleep apnea increases your risk for heart disease, obesity, depression, diabetes, and cancer. Fortunately, there are many effective options to treat the underlying causes of your TMJ disorder.
In some cases, a simple Invisalign® treatment could alleviate your TMJ symptoms—tackling a bad bite or misaligned teeth while giving you a beautiful smile. For patients with both sleep and TMJ disorders, we may recommend an oral sleep appliance, like SomnoDent®, to correct your nighttime jaw alignment and provide lasting relief. Your specific treatment options will vary depending on the cause of your condition, oral anatomy, and general health.
Ready to book your appointment?
When you visit our professionals at Bowen Legacy Dental, we will thoroughly examine your teeth, mouth, and jaw to create a treatment plan tailored to your needs. With our gentle, non-invasive services, we will address your pain and provide the solution you deserve. If you are ready to tackle your TMJ disorder and address any sleep-related TMJ issues, call us today and book an appointment.