Causes of TMJ
What Causes TMJ Disorders?
Understanding what causes TMJ disorders is crucial in determining the best treatment plan. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of TMJ disorders, it’s important to see a TMJ specialist at PRECiDENT. We can help you determine the cause of your TMJ disorder and come up with a treatment plan.
The cause of TMJ pain is not always easy to determine. However, understanding the anatomy of the jaw joint along with a thorough examination of your joint can help us determine the root of your pain. There are also several risk factors that make you more likely to experience jaw joint pain. Being aware of these risk factors can help you determine what could be causing your TMJ pain.
Understanding the Anatomy of the Jaw Joint.
In order to understand how TMJ disorders happen, we need to think about how the TMJ works. Most people don’t think much about their jaw joints, but they are actually the most important joints in your body. They make it possible for you to open and close your mouth to eat and speak. And when they’re not functioning properly, they can be a real pain.
The TMJ is like many other joints in the body. There are ligaments, tendons, muscle attachments, and cartilage. The TMJ also has a synovial disc, which provides lubrication and nutrition to the joint. Since your jaw joint functions as a whole unit, if any part of the joint is damaged, it can cause everything else to work harder. This often leads to overworked joints, which then leads to inflammation and pain.
Since the TMJ is like other joints, it can be affected by injury or arthritis, just like your knees or hips. So, when we are trying to determine the cause of your TMJ disorder, we need to take an orthopedic approach– just like we would with your other joints.
What Risk Factors Can Cause TMJ?
There are several things that put you at a higher risk of developing a TMJ disorder.
Poor posture is a common risk factor. Many patients are surprised to find out that their posture is the cause of their TMJ pain. Our bodies are meant to work as a system. Each part is supposed to work with the other parts. And when you have poor posture, it can put extra stress on other parts of your body that you might not be aware of, like your jaw joint. If you slouch or sit with your head leaning forward or slouch, your spine can’t hold your head up like it’s meant to. So, your neck and face muscles are forced to work harder to support your head.
Eating hard or chewy food can also increase your chances of developing problems in your jaw joint. When you eat hard food, your jaw has to work harder. Over time, the joint can wear down, leading to a TMJ disorder.
Can Arthritis Cause TMJ Pain?
Because the TMJ is like your knees and hips, it can be affected by arthritis. Usually arthritis involves the degeneration or inflammation of the joint. In most cases, your other joints will be affected by arthritis before the jaw joint.
Osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and psoriatic arthritis are the most common types of arthritis that cause TMJ pain. If we determine that your jaw joint pain is related to arthritis, it can help us address that problem directly. In this case, we will work with the rest of your medical team to make sure you get the treatment you need.
Does Stress Cause TMJ Pain?
A lot of people associate TMJ pain with stress. Stress can both cause and be caused by TMJ pain. Sometimes, when you’re stressed, you will naturally clench your jaw and grind your teeth. This is your body’s natural response to stress, and you may not always be aware that you’re doing it. Grinding and clenching can overwork your jaw joint. And over time, it will begin to break down. The alignment of your bite may also be affected, which puts extra pressure on the TMJ.
Even though stress is a common cause of TMJ disorders, it is not always the cause. Some patients will find relief by simply relaxing. However, this doesn’t work for all patients simply because there may be something else going on. A lot of patients get frustrated when they are told stress is the cause of their TMJ pain, but no matter how much they relax, their pain still won’t go away. If we truly want to treat TMJ pain, we need to make sure we don’t just default to assuming it’s caused by stress. A thorough diagnosis is crucial to determining the cause of TMJ disorders.
TMJ disorders – Symptoms and causes. (2018, December 28). Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/tmj/symptoms-causes/syc-20350941
Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Disorders: Symptoms, Treatment & Prevention. (n.d.-b). Cleveland Clinic. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/15066-temporomandibular-disorders-tmd-overview
Understanding the Causes of TMJ Disorders
Knowing the potential causes of TMJ disorders can help you learn how to prevent and even treat your own. If your TMJ disorder was caused by teeth grinding due to stress, for example, we can provide a treatment plan based around that. No matter what caused your TMJ disorder, it is important to have a dental specialist talk to you about your symptoms and perform a thorough diagnosis.