Have you been feeling pain or tenderness in the area surrounding your jaw whenever you speak or chew? Are there popping, grating, or clicking sounds in your jaw each time you open or close your mouth? Are there instances when you feel like your jaws are “locked”? Are you experiencing headaches, toothaches, earaches, and pain in the neck or upper shoulder? If so, you may be experiencing temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder, a condition caused by a problem in the joints and facial muscles responsible for jaw movement. If you have TMJ, it helps to know some important facts about the condition.
It affects a major nerve. Eighty percent of the input to the brain comes from cranial nerves that control hearing, taste, vision, smell, blood vessels, and other body organs. Of the input, more than half comes from the trigeminal nerve, a motor nerve controlling muscle movement in the jaws. When injury occurs to either the jaw joint or the muscle supporting it, the trigeminal nerve gets disrupted, which explains why TMJ symptoms aren’t isolated to the jaw.
It worsens with stress. Many experts agree that stress is a major contributing factor. You might have noticed that whenever you’re frustrated or angry about something or you’re performing a strenuous physical activity such as pushing or lifting a heavy load, you tend to clench your jaw or grind your teeth. Stress causes you to overuse your jaw muscles, which can aggravate TMJ. This means you should learn to manage stress and relax more to alleviate the condition.
It can wear your teeth down faster than normal. Bruxism (teeth grinding) is one of the dire consequences of TMJ disorder. Many people are not aware that they grind their teeth because it often occurs at night when the jaws are locked at sleep. Though some do it even while awake. Teeth Grinding can result in severe damage to the enamel of the teeth and extreme pressure can even lead to teeth loss. During regular check-ups, your Buckhead dental care provider should be able to pinpoint teeth grinding symptoms such as chips and abnormal teeth wear.
Seeking Relief from TMJ Disorder
In most cases, TMJ disorder is usually temporary and will disappear on its own. The NIDCR doesn’t advise making surgical changes to your jaw unless such is recommended by your doctor. Non-invasive treatments like night guards can reduce the clenching intensity by more than 30%, thus helping you manage the impulses transmitted by the nerve. Night guards also help the muscles relax in a more stable position, letting you rest better. Visit an established Buckhead dentistry facility such as Buckhead Esthetic Dentistry for night guards and other effective ways to manage your TMJ symptoms.
TMJ and Trigeminal Nerve (TMJ and TMD), IHateHeadaches.org
Temporomandibular Joint Syndrome (TMJ), MedicineNet.com