Temporomandibular Disorder – this ominous, big word could be an equally ominous and big problem.
The Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) is name of the joint on either side of your head near your ears, and connects your lower jaw to your skull. One common indication that you may have Temporomandibular (Joint) Disorder is if your jaw cracks when you yawn – similar to the sound of someone cracking their knuckles. This is the sound of your jaw moving within the socket. Other symptoms can include: headaches, back pain, neck pain/stiffness, earaches, congestion, ringing in the ears, jaw fatigue, pain when chewing, dizziness/fainting, difficulty swallowing, facial pain/ pain behind the eyes, and numbness in the hands.
Oddly enough, some of these symptoms sound unrelated. When your muscles are clenched and spasm for prolonged periods of time due to your temporomandibular joint being out of place, other muscles compensate which leads to knotted muscles and pain in other areas of your body. This just illustrates the interconnectivity of our bodies and the importance of dental health in relation to your overall health! If you have been suffering from any of the above, you might have just found the missing piece to your puzzle.
So what causes Temporomandibular Disorder, anyway? Usually it is caused by other injury to your jaw or diseases of your joints – such as arthritis. Just as muscles tighten to compensate for your jaw, the reverse can be true with tight shoulders or sore necks straining your TMJ. Other root causes could be the result of dentures that aren’t fitting properly, or even bad habits such as nail-biting.
Some causes you may be unaware that you’re contributing to since they can occur when you’re unconscious! After a gruelling day, even a night when you are fast asleep, you may be suffering from “bruxism”. Bruxism (clenching your teeth or grinding them – especially in your sleep) will worsen Temporomandibular Disorder and make it more difficult to get, “back to the grind” the next day.
Through identifying the range of causes, your Ottawa dentist can accordingly suggest possible treatment. These can range from the simplicity of merely avoiding hard, sticky foods, cutting food into tiny pieces, or even relaxation techniques to ebb the tension that’s tightening your jaw – to more direct approaches such as new dentures, or custom fit night guards, or a referral to a physiotherapist.
As they say, “Don’t bite off more than you can chew” – leaving these symptoms unchecked could lead to further discomfort and trauma to your teeth and jaw. If it’s hard to swallow- then swallow your pride and visit your Ottawa dentist, Dr. Jaleel. We’ll make Temporomandibular Disorder bite the dust!